The very public disputes between Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices, some of whom recently joined an order to suspend colleague Justice Seamus McCaffery, has prompted reform advocates to call for a new method of picking appellate court judges.
The commonwealth is one of the few states that elects people to the bench.
Voters should consider whether they want judges who are fundamentally politicians, said Paul Titus, a lawyer on the advisory board of reform group Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.
“These controversies may lead to change. And, of course, I’m one of those who has long felt that our appellate judges should not be selected by partisan elections,” he said. “I think partisan elections with a large amount of money on both sides, I think erodes confidence in the courts when people are selected in that way.”
The group has advocated for appellate court judges to be picked using what they call “merit selection” – involving a nominating commission, the sitting governor, and the state Senate.
Skeptics have suggested the system would need an independent body to vet candidates.
Implementation would require a constitutional amendment.