Beyond Edmunds: The State Constitutional Legacy of Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille

31 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2018

See all articles by Bruce Ledewitz

Bruce Ledewitz

Duquesne University - School of Law

Date Written: 2015


The occasion of Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille’s retirement from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is a fitting one to assess his state constitutional legacy. The major aspect of that legacy is the impact the Chief Justice has had in changing the way that the Pennsylvania Constitution is interpreted, along with the resulting likelihood that Pennsylvania jurisprudence will follow federal constitutional interpretations of parallel constitutional provisions. This is especially so in the realm of search and seizure. That is why the title of this evaluation mentions Commonwealth v. Edmunds, a search case that, in 1991, outlined for the first time in Pennsylvania history, a methodology for the interpretation of parallel rights. The Chief Justice has changed the way that Edmunds is used by the Pennsylvania judiciary, thus changing the meaning of the Pennsylvania Constitution far into the future.

But the title of this article — "Beyond Edmunds" — also suggests that this simple narrative is not the whole story of the impact of the Chief Justice on the Pennsylvania Constitution. It is not even the whole story of his impact on Edmunds. All of the different aspects of the Chief Justice’s state constitutional decision-making must be looked at before his legacy can be fairly evaluated. That is what I propose to do, briefly, here. The analysis will not be exhaustive, but I hope I can hit the high points.

Keywords: Ronald Castille, Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Pennsylvania Constitution, Pennsylvania Jurisprudence, Separation of Powers, Judicial Interpretation

Suggested Citation

Ledewitz, Bruce, Beyond Edmunds: The State Constitutional Legacy of Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille (2015). Duquesne University School of Law Research Paper No. 2018-04; Duquesne University Law Review, Vol. 53, 2015. Available at SSRN:

Bruce Ledewitz (Contact Author)

Duquesne University - School of Law ( email )

600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States

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