Feb 19 2008
Pennsylvania is one of only six states that selects all judges through contested, partisan elections. Partisan elections mean extensive fundraising, big-time campaign donors, and sometimes even negative smear campaigns. Because judges are sworn to make impartial decisions, based strictly on facts and the existing law, we believe that making candidates engage in these political elections to reach the bench is not the best way to get fair and impartial courts staffed by the most qualified judges.
There is a better way to select judges, called Merit Selection. By stripping money from the process, Merit Selection allows appellate judges to be chosen based on their qualifications and experience.
Because a switch to Merit Selection requires an amendment to the Pennsylvania constitution, like many other much-needed changes in our state, it has been slow in coming.
As elections have become more expensive and as public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary has declined, there have been efforts to change the way we choose judges in Pennsylvania. For example, in early 2001, Governor Tom Ridge began working toward Merit Selection, but when he resigned to serve in Washington, the issue was put on the back burner. Governor Ed Rendell recently revived the issue by including Merit Selection of appellate judges in his March 2007 call for governmental reforms.
With the recent wave of reform in Harrisburg, we believe now is the time to stop talking about changing the system. It’s time to pass the legislation to make Merit Selection of appellate judges a reality in Pennsylvania.
If you support merit selection in Pennsylvania, please fill out this form.
Sponsored by Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts (PMC) and PMCAction, JudgesOnMerit.org is one site committed to implementing a Merit Selection system for choosing appellate judges in Pennsylvania.
PMC is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded to improve and strengthen the justice system in Pennsylvania by reforming the judicial selection process; improving court administration, court financing and the jury system; eliminating bias; and assisting citizens in navigating the courts and the justice system, whether as litigants, jurors, or witnesses. PMCAction is a related entity that engages in lobbying to promote a court reform agenda.
This blog will share the latest news, views and information as Pennsylvania moves closer to amending the constitution to allow Merit Selection. We strongly encourage visitors to comment on all posts and add their opinions to the on-going discussion.
- Merit Selection Explained
- Myths About Merit Selection
- Help Get A Hearing For Merit Selection Bills
- Court Reform Coalition Partners
- Report on the Senate Hearing
- Report on the 2009 House Judiciary Committee Hearing
- Report on the 2012 House Judiciary Committee Hearing
- Contact Info for House Judiciary Committee
- Contact Info for Senate Judiciary Committee
- Merit Selection: The 2011-2012 Bills