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PA: merit-based judge appointments?

November 13, 2013

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania state lawmakers on November 12 introduced legislation to establish a merit-based system for appointing statewide judges. Republican Rep. Bryan Cutler said, “I believe that it is time to have a conversation about how we select our judges. I personally believe that the integrity of our justice system requires that we select judges based on more than voter turn-out, name ID or fundraising ability. I believe we should be looking for the members of the bar with the highest qualifications, not just the best political skills.”

Democratic Rep. Brian Sims said, “The people have shown year after year that most of them aren’t that attached to electing judges—the turnout in last week’s election was below 10% in some counties, and only an estimated 14% to 17% statewide. It’s time to remove partisan politics and campaign contributions from selecting our judiciary and implement a merit-based system for choosing Pennsylvania’s statewide judges. As you can see from the folks backing this effort, merit selection transcends party lines and geographical divides and pursues just one, clear goal: placing the most qualified and competent jurists in the courtroom.”

Former Gov. Tom Ridge also weighed in with support. He said, “Changing the way we select judges is important for the integrity of the courts.”