Mar 20 2013
In order to protect the integrity of our courts, former Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh believes Pennsylvanians should implement merit selection. He is not alone. In fact, even among former Pennsylvania governors he is not alone.
Along with Gov. Thornburgh, Gov. Tom Ridge, Gov. Ed Rendell, and Gov. George Leader have sent a joint letter to members of the House urging them to give Pennsylvanians the opportunity to vote on whether judicial elections should be scrapped in favor of merit selection.
During a recent phone conference with Governors Thornburgh, Ridge, and Rendell, it quickly became clear to me that merit selection is important to them. As one reporter pointed out during the conference, it is unprecedented to have this many governors come together on an issue in this way.
But what may be more unprecedented is the bipartisan effort among not only the governors, but among representatives, senators, and ordinary citizens to give Pennsylvanians the option to finally decide for themselves how they would like to choose their judges.
As more information is made available it is becoming clear to everyone, the media, the people of Pennsylvania, and even those that are close to the system such as former governors, that merit selection is what is best for Pennsylvania.
The current process “casts a very dark shadow over the integrity and independence of our judicial system,” according to Gov. Ridge. He further argued that it is absolutely imperative to get judicial candidates out of fundraising and campaigning out of the judicial process. His sentiment was echoed by Gov. Rendell, who argued, “The
influence of money in judicial elections is pernicious, and it creates a feeling among ordinary folks that justice is for sale, whether that is true or not.”
Pennsylvania needs fair and impartial courts. In order to have that, the people of Pennsylvania must first be given the option to decide whether or not merit selection is right for them.