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IT WAS MR. BUMBLE

in Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" who uttered the immortal line, "If the law supposes that, then the law is a ass, a idiot!" What the law supposes is that state Rep. Bill DeWeese, a former House speaker from Waynesburg, is eligible to run in the April 24 primary even though he was convicted of felony counts involving theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest. Felons cannot serve in the Legislature under the state Constitution. But the technicality, upheld by a Commonwealth Court judge, is that a conviction does not become final until the defendant is sentenced -- which will occur on the same day as the primary. If Mr. DeWeese's constituents vote for a representative who can't represent them, they will be the foolish ones.

THE LAW doesn't always suppose the wrong things. On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court ordered House Speaker Sam Smith of Jefferson County to schedule special elections for six vacant House seats on April 24, the date of the primary. Mr. Smith took the position that he was powerless to act until the Legislative Reapportionment Commission passes a new redistricting plan. (The court rejected the first plan.) The justices said that residents of the districts had a clear legal right to elected representation. Leaving the special election dates to the discretion claimed by Mr. Smith, the Republican leader in a Republican-dominated House, would have smacked of political maneuvering, as four of the six seats had been held by Democrats -- including that of former state Rep. Chelsa Wagner, who resigned after becoming Allegheny County controller.

PENN STATE University will hold an election from April 10 to May 3 for three alumni seats on its 32-member board of trustees. Last year, six candidates made the ballot. This time, 86 candidates are vying for votes. What a difference a child sexual abuse scandal and the firing of a coaching legend makes. What began as alumni anger over how the board handled the case of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has spread to other dissatisfactions with the board's leadership. In our view, the board acted appropriately but perhaps the election, in bringing new faces on the board, will help dissipate the lingering bitterness.



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