If Gov. Tom Corbett has a plan on how he’ll handle a soon-to-be vacant seat on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, he isn’t sharing it.
The governor now has in his possession a list of five Republican candidates to consider nominating to the state’s high court.
The list, however, didn’t come from Corbett’s staff.
The names came from Senate Democrats, whose support will be necessary to confirming any pick from the governor. The short list came with a message: Pick one of these people, and you’ll guarantee a quick confirmation.
The governor will take that short list into consideration, said spokesman Kevin Harley. He added that a quick confirmation isn’t Corbett’s utmost priority.
“It is his hope, that, whomever he nominates, they will be considered on the merits of their qualifications for the job,” he said.
But how quickly Corbett will want to wrap up the process is anybody’s guess. He could send the Senate a name right away, and give Democrats a bargaining chip during budget negotiations, or he could hold his choice until after June.
“We’ll make that determination once the vacancy exists,” Harley said.
The vacancy is already planned, though. Suspended Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin will step down May 1 as she awaits sentencing on several campaign corruption charges.
Chief Justice Ron Castille has urged the governor and the Senate to fill the vacancy as soon as possible, saying the court can’t function with its current partisan deadlock.
Without Orie Melvin, it has three Republicans and three Democrats — in other words, no tie-breaker.