Senator Corman Says Proposal To Move Pa. Appeals Courts To Regional Elections Won't Be On May Ballot

Feb 17, 2021

In this file photo, state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman talks with WPSU.
Credit Min Xian / WPSU

A proposed amendment to Pennsylvania’s Constitution that would change how Supreme Court and appeals court judges are elected could have been on the state ballot as early as May, but Senate President Pro Tem Jake Corman said he expects there to be greater review of the issue first.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the proposal in the 2019-20 session. A Constitutional Amendment has to pass in two consecutive sessions before it goes to voters as a referendum. 

 

Republicans have pushed for the change, but Corman said he does not think it will be on the ballot this May.

 

“We want to take some time, and maybe hold some hearings and get as much input on it as possible,” Corman said.

 

Judges on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court and other appeals courts are currently elected statewide. The proposal would divide the state into regions that elect those judges.

 

Corman said it’s worth considering other options too, including merit-based selection and gubernatorial appointments with Senate approval that would distance judges from politics.

 

“The predicament that we put our judicial candidates in by having to run statewide is a delicate one, and one that at least deserves review," he said.

 

Critics say judges should be the best in the state, not picked to represent a certain region. And, they say, the proposal is at least partly because Republicans were unhappy with a Supreme Court decision on legislative redistricting.