Candidates vie to join PA Supreme Court

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the final word on the state’s constitution, deciding everything from beer sales in supermarkets to whether or not a convicted murderer lives or dies. Two candidates vying for an open seat on the Court will face each other in a debate Thursday in Philadelphia.

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the final word on the state’s constitution, deciding everything from beer sales in supermarkets to whether or not a convicted murderer lives or dies. Two candidates vying for an open seat on the Court will face each other in a debate Thursday in Philadelphia.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091021spjudges.mp3]

    Pittsburgh Republican Jane Orie Melvin and Easton Democrat Jack Panella are hardly household names. If elected, they will serve on the same court that upheld the controversial 2005 legislative and judicial pay raise, ruled more than a dozen times on challenges to the state’s gambling laws, and would be the final decider of whether a local municipality can enforce its own gun laws.

    Franklin and Marshall political science professor Terry Madonna says despite the stakes, little is known about judicial candidates.

    Madonna: Because the candidates don’t typically have enough money to go out and campaign through the state and get themselves known, that creates a serious information gap.

    Most of the money they do raise, comes from attorneys. That’s a conflict of interest reformers are trying to change by proposing to institute merit selection. Until then, Pennsylvania remains one of only 6 states that elect its judges.

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