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Save Our Environment

Justice Donohue drew from and confirmed much of the
constitutional analysis contained in the plurality decision
in Robinson Township v. Commonwealth, 83 A.3d 901 (Pa.
2013) ("Robinson Township II"), authored by former-Chief
Justice Castille. In the Robinson Township II decision, Chief
Justice Castille was joined by Justice Todd and former-Justice
McCaffery. Justice Baer wrote an opinion concurring in the
overall result (a finding that major provisions of the then new
Oil and Gas Act (Act 13 of 2012) were unconstitutional), but
stated that he did not agree with the basis for the decision
as stated by Chief Justice Castille (although Justice Baer
specifically noted that he agreed with much of what former
Chief Justice Castille wrote about the meaning and application
of Art. 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution). See,
Robinson Township II, Baer Concurring Opinion, Slip Op. at
In PaEDF v. Commw., Justice Donohue set the stage by
stating the parameters of constitutional interpretation, as
In interpreting constitutional language, "the fundamental
rule of construction which guides [this Court] is that the
Constitution's language controls and must be interpreted in its
popular sense, as understood by the people when they voted on
its adoption." Ieropoli v. AC&S Corp., 842 A.2d 919, 925 (Pa.

2004). As with our interpretation of statutes, if the language of a
constitutional provision is unclear, we may be informed by "the
occasion and necessity for the provision; the circumstances under
which the amendment was ratified; the mischief to be remedied;
the object to be attained; and the contemporaneous legislative
history." Robinson Twp., 83 A.3d at 945 (citing 1 Pa.C.S. ยงยง
1921, 1922).
PaEDF v. Commw., Majority Opinion, Slip Op. at 20.
In 2013, the Robinson Township II plurality decision was
considered to be groundbreaking and highly persuasive, but
not binding on the lower courts. Some commentators judged
that the compliance test (the "Payne Test") stated in Payne v.
Kassab, 312 A.2d 86 (Pa. Commw. 1973) ("Payne I") was still
the law in Pennsylvania, even though the plurality decision in
Robinson Township II criticized the test announced in Payne I
as "lack[ing] foundation" in Section 27. Robinson Township II,
83 A.3d 966-67.
The case of Payne I involved the proposed expansion and
encroachment of a highway on a public park. The project was
opposed partly on the grounds that highway encroachment
on historic park land violated the provisions of Art. 1, Sec.
27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. In a decision authored
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