So, it’s the morning after. As expected, very low voter turnout yesterday. In the appellate court races, the Republican endorsed candidates won handily. The Democrat for Superior Court was running unopposed. But the Democratic contest for Commonwealth Court is not yet determined, and it’ s possible that the unendorsed candidate who received a “not recommended” rating from the Pennsylvania Bar Association could be on the ballot in November.
In Philadelphia, ballot position and party endorsement were important factors in determining who won the very crowded races for Common Pleas Court.
So, what’s all this mean? That elections still aren’t designed to get the most qualified, fair and impartial judges on the bench. Instead, elections generally reward luck (ballot position), political connections (party endorsement), and fundraising prowess. Why should Pennsylvania be relying on such a system to pick officials whose job is to be fair, impartial, unbiased judges accountable to the law?
PMC representatives spent election day encouraging Pennsylvanians to vote while also pointing out the problems inherent in electing judges. PMC’s Executive Director Lynn A. Marks spoke on PCN’s Call-In Show about how judges are different from other public officials and should therefore be selected in a different way. Deputy Director Shira Goodman spoke about the issue and why electing judges doesn’t make sense on WHYY and WILK FM.
In addition, our letter in the Times-Leader argues: “The best way to solve the “money problem” is to get judges out of the fundraising business by ending the practice of electing judges.”
Our comments about the elections and how random factors have too great a role in deciding who gets on the bench can be found in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. Most telling is an interview with Marks following her own trip to the voting booth:
‘I voted this morning. . . .I’m a politically active lawyer, and I didn’t know most of the people running. . . .’
‘It’s a crazy system to have people running very political campaigns for a job that’s supposed to be non-political and non-partisan.’
So, here at JudgesOnMerit, we’re doing our “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” and once again asking why we continue to elect judges this way. We think it’s time for Pennsylvanians to get the opportunity to decide whether there is a better way to pick judges. We hope they will get that chance.
Tags: Daily News
, judicial elections
, Lynn A. Marks
, Philadelphia Inquirer
, Shira Goodman