Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin submitted her resignation on Monday, allowing the state court to “once again operate with a full complement of justices” and saving Pennsylvanians from a “drawn-out removal process,” Lynn Marks said in a statement this week.
Marks is the executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a Justice at Stake partner organization. A Pennsylvania Patriot News article says that the court has been operating with six justices instead of seven since Melvin was suspended last year on corruption charges.
Melvin was facing possible impeachment proceedings from two House members, the article says. Her resignation will be effective May 1.
Marks said Melvin’s conviction “could only have happened in a system where all judges are elected in expensive, partisan elections. Judges should not be forced to be in the fundraising and campaigning business in order to win a seat on the bench.”
After Melvin steps down, Gov. Tom Corbett will have the opportunity to appoint a new justice to the court, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He can appoint an interim justice within 90 days of Melvin’s official resignation.
“I will submit a nominee to the Senate as soon as practical within that time frame to bring our Supreme Court back to its full complement of seven justices,” Corbett said in a statement.
Currently, the Legislature is considering a proposed constitutional amendment, that would require appellate court judges to be nominated by the governor and then confirmed by the state senate. Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts has endorsed this potential legislation.