Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Kane Mutiny

Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane did herself no political harm announcing she won't defend state law banning gay marriage, but she sure stood up for change.

The Kane Mutiny

Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania Attorney General, May 1, 2013.. ( MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ).
Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania Attorney General, May 1, 2013.. ( MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ).

In a state where change or progressive politics is as rare as a woman in high public office, Democratic Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane is certainly making a mark.

Her announcement Thursday that she won't defend state law banning gay marriage is yet another in a series of decisions bucking the status quo.

She formerly challenged the Jerry Sandusky case by her predecessor Gov. Corbett (an invesitgation continues), closed the so-called Florida gun loophole allowing state residents to get concealed weapons permits if denied them here and rejected Cobett's controversial proposed privatization of parts of the state lottery.

Her latest stand is drawing both sharp criticism and high praise.

Many conservative Republicans and some legal experts contend she's refusing to do the job she was elected and sworn to do, arguing the office she holds was never intended to be run on the basis on one's personal beliefs.

Many Democratic liberals laud her decision as principled and right, a courageous stand in a national debate that clearly is headed toward broader acceptance and legalization of same-sex marriage.

Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that does not recognize gay marriage or unions.

It's easy to see her stand, given the state's usual position on social issues, as something of a mutiny. And political.

By opting out of defending the state's ban, Kane tosses the baton to Corbett, who needs another high-profile problem like a leaking ship needs another hole.

While some question her actions as trading her constitutional duties for her personal and political agenda, she isn't the first public official (and likely won't be the last) to bail on the issue by refusing to defend same-sex prohibitions.

The Obama administration did so, as did officials in Illinois and in California, the latter prior to last month's U.S. Supreme Court decision that California's ban was unconstitutional.

Kane, in office only since January, is proving to be an active and aggressive state attorney general. And, despite her campaign slogan last year that she's "a prosecutor, not a politician," she's playing hardball in Pennsylvania -- a place not used to having its politics and its policies shaken AND stirred.






Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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