Gavel Grab

Editorial: Stop ‘Dumbed-Down’ PA Judicial Elections

A plain-speaking editorial in The Express-Times urges a shift to merit selection of top Pennsylvania judges, saying “the Legislature has an opportunity to wean the state judiciary of campaign money and put a stop to dumbed-down elections.”

It was the latest in a chorus of newspaper editorials spotlighting scandals affecting state courts, record-breaking spending in the 2015 state Supreme Court election and a proposal before legislators for an appointment-based selection system. Some of the other recent news coverage from Pennsylvania about elected judges included the following:

  • Regarding ethics charges against suspended Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin (see Gavel Grab), The Associated Press had a headline stating, “Discipline court rejects deal in justice’s email case.”
  • Philly.com reported, “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court meted out a harsh public rebuke Wednesday of a newly elected Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge, citing ‘serial misconduct’ in his previous work as criminal defense lawyer.”
  • “Montco’s first African American district judge ran against the odds,” declared a Philadelphia Inquirer headline. In the article about a magisterial district judge, Lynn Marks of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts notes that no judges on statewide courts belong to racial minorities. Hers is a Justice at Stake partner organization.
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