Judicial elections, democratic appointment (e.g., senate confirmation), and the Missouri Plan (a/k/a "merit selection")

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Bill to End Election of Pennsylvania Supreme Court

A bill to end elections for Pennsylvania's Supreme Court and other statewide courts was approved by Pennsylvania's House Judiciary Committee. The bill would replace judicial elections with a gubernatorial appointment from a pool of candidates selected by a nominating commission.

The 13-member commission's members would be appointed by the governor (5 commissioners) and majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate (2 commissioners each). Because this commission would be appointed by democratically-elected officials, this commission would be similar to the commission involved in selecting New York's highest court, and would be unlike the commissions involved in appointment the high courts of Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, and several others states that allow the bar to appoint some members of the commission. In short, Pennsylvania's commission would have democratic legitimacy.

Because the Pennsylvania bill is a constitutional amendment it would need approval by both the state House and Senate during two consecutive legislative sessions.

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