Dec 07 2012
“Pennsylvania’s biennial judicial races tend to be low attention but high intrigue affairs, with much of the action happening at party state committee meetings.”
It’s a little sentence buried at the end of a Politics PA article, but it sure is a loaded statement. In one, simple statement, the highly politicized nature of Pennsylvania’s judicial elections is revealed.
It’s no secret that the currency of political parties is power, and the judiciary holds a lot of it. Ideally, that power would be held in check by judicial independence and a strict adherence to the law. But partisan judicial elections put that power into play by undermining independence and casting a shadow of prejudice over the bench.
Many areas of the Commonwealth are politically entrenched. Judicial elections are often decided during the primaries because voters are sure to vote their party loyalty in the general election. This means that judicial candidates have to jockey for party
support if they expect to have any chance of winning.
Politics is the domain of the other governmental branches – not the judiciary. Partisan maneuvering has no place in the courthouse. Equal justice and liberty for all are supposed to reign
supreme. As long as judges are forced to engage in electoral politics, the public will be skeptical about the quality of justice being served by our courts.