Gavel Grab

Editorial: Clear Call for PA Judicial Election Reform

A leading Philadelphia newspaper strongly endorses judicial election reform in Pennsylvania in an editorial entitled “Clear evidence.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial cites as evidence both the high-spending state Supreme Court election in 2009–combined with popular concern about “justice for sale”–and a scandal in Luzerne County that has ensnared several judges:

“Most Pennsylvanians say they suspect that justice is for sale because candidates for judgeships have to raise campaign funds. The big-spending 2009 Supreme Court election…did nothing to restore their fraying faith in an impartial judiciary.”

“The course for state policymakers is clear: Step in and reform judicial selection, or continue to preside over a system that erodes public confidence in justice as it’s dispensed in Pennsylvania.”

While merit selection of judges has not been proposed at the county level beyond Philadelphia, “the same system could improve both the quality and diversity of other county courts” in the state, the editorial says. It also echoes a call by our friends at Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts for measures to heighten disclosure of campaign spending.

To learn more about calls for election reform in Pennsylvania, you can check out earlier posts in Gavel Grab, along with information about PMC’s report on spending in the 2009 Supreme Court election. You can read about judicial appointment and retention systems by clicking here for Justice at Stake’s issues page.

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