PA Senators Propose Amendment for Merit Selection of Judges

In a press release this week, Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts praised state senators for introducing a bill to establish a merit system for selecting appellate court judges.

Executive Director Lynn A. Marks said that “Pennsylvanians deserve a system where judges are chosen based on candidates’ credentials, not their campaign war chests, political affiliation, where they live, a familiar name or where their name appears on the ballot.”

Under the proposed constitutional amendment, a nominating commission would review potential candidates and send a short list of names to the governor. The nominees would then have to receive confirmation by the Senate, and if confirmed, would undergo retention elections to remain on the bench.

The legislation comes at the beginning of suspended Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin’s trial for corruption charges.

“The charges facing indicted and suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin illustrate the critical need for getting judges out of the campaign business. If we didn’t elect judges in the first place, our courts would not be under such a shadow,” Marks added. Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is a Justice at Stake partner organization.

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