State Representatives Bryan Cutler and Madeleine Dean have proposed an amendment to the Pennsylvania constitution that would eliminate direct elections for state appellate judges. Instead, judges would be chosen by merit selection. Under the plan, a 13-member panel would choose five nominees for a judicial vacancy, and send that list to the governor. The governor would then select one of the five nominees, and the state senate would confirm the final selection. Judges would then face periodic retention elections. The proposal mirrors many of the best qualities of existing merit selection systems.
Similar bills have been proposed in the past (including many by Rep. Cutler), without much success. But you can’t move the needle if you don’t keep trying, and Pennsylvania’s direct elections of judges have not been anything to write home about. Good luck to the proponents this time around.
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