The Time is Ripe for Reform

Today’s Pittsburgh Post Gazette editorial blasts the House Judiciary Committee for failing to advance Merit Selection legislation even as a sitting Supreme Court Justice has been indicted for alleged illegal campaign activity. “[T]he occasion has never been riper to get politics out of judicial elections. The headlines on Justice Joan Orie Melvin being charged with using her staff to do campaign work on state time surely wouldn't be written if a merit selection process were used."
Despite the current scandal, the House Judiciary Committee voted 13-12 to table House Bill 1815 instead of moving forward with the constitutional amendment process that would give voters the opportunity to decide for themselves whether there is a better way to choose appellate judges.
A 2010 poll of PA voters revealed that 93% want the opportunity to vote on whether we should change the way we select judges. It is unfortunate that the legislature has not yet given the people this opportunity.  The editorial’s conclusion about this failure is telling:  “What an irony: Lawmakers who want the people to keep voting for judges don't want the people to have the chance to decide whether they want to keep voting for judges.”