Many Pennsylvania lawyers only encounter the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in its appellate guise, but the court enjoys an unusual hybrid nature, having both appellate and original jurisdiction. The court’s original jurisdiction encompasses cases in which the state government is a party, though such cases can also arrive at the court as appeals from state agency decisions. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently issued a significant decision in a case that touched on both kinds of jurisdiction and, in doing so, it broadly interpreted the Commonwealth Court’s original jurisdiction to hear cases under the Declaratory Judgments Act, 42 Pa. C.S. §§ 7531-7541, when litigants seek to challenge a state agency’s interpretation of a statute.
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