Archive for the 'Merit Selection' Category

May 26 2015

More Money, More Problems for the Judiciary

  “In too many states, judicial elections are becoming political prizefights where partisans and special interests seek to install judges who will answer to them instead of the law and the Constitution.” – Sandra Day O’Connor, former United States Supreme Court Justice   Last Tuesday, at the time of the primary in Pennsylvania, campaign fundraising for the Pennsylvania […]

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May 20 2015

What High Campaign Fundraising Totals Mean for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Race

Even before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court primary on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, fundraising totals for the 12 candidates for three open seats has soared into the millions—nearly $5 million raised according to the latest campaign finance reports from the Pennsylvania Department of State, with $2.3 million already spent. A recent article in the Legal Intelligencer […]

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May 06 2015

Some Final Thoughts

Published by under Merit Selection

As my fellowship with PMC comes to an end, I’d like to take some time to reflect on my experiences here and to write about some of what I’ve learned as a legal fellow. When I first started at PMC in December 2014, I knew very little about how judges were selected in PA. I […]

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May 04 2015

As More Money Flows into Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Race, It’s Time for Merit Selection

Candidates for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have already raised at least $2 million in campaign contributions this year.  Many predict that this is only a small fraction of the total amount of money that will be raised in the 2015 Supreme Court election.  Three seats are up for grabs in this year’s election setting up  an extremely […]

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Apr 22 2015

2015 PA Supreme Court Race Is a “Game Changer”

With the primary for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court race looming, the race promises to be a “game changer” for the court. With an unprecedented three seats open on the court, the race is one of “the most significant races in state history.” The vacancies on the high court exist in the wake of numerous scandals, including the resignation […]

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Apr 09 2015

Justice Sue Bell Cobb Interview Highlights Need for Merit Selection

Published by under Judges,Merit Selection

Dave Davies of National Public Radio recently interviewed former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Sue Bell Cobb an outspoken critic of judicial elections on the Fresh Air program. Although her 2006 campaign for the Alabama Supreme Court is the second most expensive judicial election on record, that is likely to change this year […]

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Apr 08 2015

Judicial candidate fundraising is a double edged sword

The twelve candidates running for Pennsylvania Supreme Court filed their first financial reports of 2015 yesterday. For candidates and the public, fundraising is a double edged sword. On the one hand, judicial candidates need to raise substantial amounts of money to “send the message ‘I’m a serious candidate,’” according to G. Terry Madonna, a political scientist and pollster at Franklin & […]

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Apr 06 2015

In a Crowded Judicial Election, the Winner is Often Left to Chance

With more than 50 candidates vying for 12 open seats on Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas, some are questioning whether voters will be able educate themselves regarding each candidate and cast an informed vote. Philadelphia’s primary is May 19th, and time is running short. With such a crowded ballot, many are likely to vote based […]

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Mar 26 2015

In Response to Growing Influence of Money in Judicial Elections, Former Alabama Chief Justice Supports Merit Selection

This year, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to decide whether state ethics rules can prohibit judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions. The case, Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, could have major implications in some of the 33 states, like Pennsylvania, which have this prohibition in place. A ruling against the Florida Bar would effectively […]

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Mar 23 2015

Elect Judges Based On Merit, Not Chance

An editorial in today’s Philadelphia Daily News highlights the judicial elections “crapshoot” in Pennsylvania, where judges are often elected based on nothing other than their luck in a lottery for ballot position. The importance of ballot position on winning elections is well documented, especially in judicial races, where voters don’t have a lot of information about the candidates.  The University of Virginia’s Center […]

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