Can you serve as attorney general if you've lost your law license?

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane cannot practice law. In September, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended Kane's law license indefinitely. Kane faces criminal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Kane is accused of leaking grand jury material to embarrass a political opponent and then lying about it under oath. Not the sort of conduct a state's highest legal official should engage in.

Kane insists she can still do her job, even though her suspension means she cannot make legal decisions or see confidential legal documents anymore. The legislature seems to disagree and is considering her removal. The decision whether to pursue her removal will be made by a special bipartisan panel in the state Senate. Kane is a Democrat, but Democrats are not rushing to support her. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, for instance, has already indicated that he thinks Kane should leave her office.

If the Senate panel recommends Kane's removal, the matter will go to the full state Senate, where a two-thirds vote will be required to remove her from office. Kane, for her part, is expected to fight her removal every step of the way. On the day after the state Supreme Court voted unanimously to suspend her license, Kane released embarrassing e-mails from Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin, including some that included pornography.

UPDATE: I should have noted in the original post that Article IV, Section 5 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides: "No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General except a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania." So one question is whether, under Pennsylvania law, an indefinite suspension of a bar license is itself disqualifying for someone who is already in office.