Jun 18 2012
An editorial in the Bucks County Courier Times is calling attention to the arguments for Merit Selection in Pennsylvania and expressing disappointment at the House Judiciary Committee’s failure to move Merit Selection legislation forward.
Considering the recent indictment of state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin for campaign finance law violations, the article declares, “Perhaps the greatest pitfall for judges in Pennsylvania is the need to raise money to conduct an election campaign….”
Orie Melvin raised nearly $2 million for her 2009 campaign for a position on the Commonwealth’s highest court. Her opponent in that campaign raised $2.7 million. “That’s a lot of money. And regardless of what anybody says, it isn’t handed out without at least some strings attached.”
Lawyers, law firms, and special interests are the most prevalent contributors to judicial campaigns. “Think all they’re interested in is a fair judiciary? Think again.”
The article concludes, “Indeed, electing judges is possibly the worst way in the world to consistently put qualified people on the bench — people who really care about ethics, impartiality, fairness and justice.”
A blog post on ThinkProgress concurs and warns of the growing, unencumbered influence of campaign contributors.
“One of the most troubling aspects of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Citizens United ruling is that outside special interests are now free to spend as much as they want on ads for or against candidates not just for those running for legislative and executive offices, but also for judicial positions.”
Money is power, and the public believes that special interests are using money in the form campaign contributions to exert influence in the justice system. It’s time to get judges out of the fundraising business and ensure that Pennslvanians have a fair and impartial judiciary that delivers justice for all.