Jun 12 2012
An article in The Legal Intelligencer remarked on the puzzling fact that despite several scandals that have tarnished the reputation of the Pennsylvania courts, legislators have nevertheless voted to table Merit Selection legislation that would have brought reform to the judicial selection process. Tabling of the legislation has led some to wonder why the voters are being denied the opportunity to decide for themselves whether there is a better way to pick judges.
Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts’ Lynn A. Marks, explained,
“I think what these scandals do is they put the issue [of judicial selection] on the radar screen … But it doesn’t give us legislative reform on a silver platter, it just makes it easier to paint a picture of what the issues are and helps build a coalition and a little more outrage by the public.”
Opponents of Merit Selection claim that the process “disenfranchises voters.” However, Lawrence J. Beaser, a partner at Blank Rome and long-time supporter of Merit Selection, maintains that Merit Selection is “the ’perfect combination’ of public input and vetting by an experienced nominating committee.”
Advocates of Merit Selection want to give the voters the option of choosing judicial selection reform, but that can’t happen until the supporting legislation makes its way through the process. PMC’s Shira Goodman pointed out, “It’s a very nice sound bite for critics to say that merit selection means taking away the public’s chance to vote, but we want people to decide, ‘Is there a better way?’ That’s what this bill and vote would have done.”
The campaign for Merit Selection continues. The people of the Commonwealth deserve the chance to decide for themselves.