An editorial in the Youngstown News (Ohio) calls for a meaningful public dialogue about whether to change to Merit Selection. Citing the recent New Politics of Judicial Elections report, the editorial observes:
The issue of money and the courts is not new. . . .
But the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that threw open the floodgates to corporations and labor unions to contribute to political candidates is a game changer.
Can the public be assured the courts will remain fair and independent when money i
s flowing like water?
The editorial notes that in the past, Merit Selection has not passed in Ohio, but it argues that changed circumstances demand a new look. Here is the call to action:
There is no doubt that the current money-based system of filling state supreme court seats has fed public cynicism and distrust of the judicial system. It’s time — again — for an intelligent, apolitical, public discussion.
That sounds like a very good prescription for Pennsylvania as well. We hope Pennsylvanians will have the chance to have such a discussion about Merit Selection of appellate court judges.
Tags: Meri tSelection
, New Politics of Judicial Elections
, Youngstown News
An editorial in the Reading Eagle urges that it’s time to give Pennsylvanians the opportunity to vote on Merit Selection. In a review of the report The New Politics of Judicial Selection, the editorial opens with these key points:
The Issue: A study reveals what we already knew: Judicial elections are becoming more expensive.
Our Opinion: It is time to switch to merit selection of Pennsylvania’s appellate court judges.
The editorial cites the rising costs of judicial elections and the increasing participation of special interests in those campaigns. It agrees with the Professor James Sample (lead author of the New Politics report) that “‘We’re sort of playing with fire when you’re putting this much money into our courts.”
The editorial then reviews the pending Merit Selection legislation and notes that Governor Rendell and former
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Governors Ridge, Thornburgh and Schweiker recently joined together to support implementing Merit Selection for Pennsylvania’s appellate court judges. The closing paragraphs are worth quoting in full:
According to a survey conducted by Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, 63 percent of the people in the commonwealth supported replacing the current system of electing judges, and 93 percent favored putting the issue to a statewide vote.
Nevertheless, the Legislature has been reluctant to even consider a change, which would take at least two years to implement because it would require a change in the state Constitution.
Why are the 253 members of the Legislature blocking the will of the people?
Despite growing support in the legislature and the dedication of our legislative sponsors, the Merit Selection legislation has not yet reached the floor of either House. We agree with the Reading Eagle that Pennsylvanians shouldn’t have to wait any more.
Tags: Governor Rendell
, James Sample
, Merit Selection
, New Politics of Judicial Selection
, Pennsylvanias for Modern Courts
, Reading Eagle