Record-setting spending in race for Pa. Supreme Court


Pennsylvania voters are choosing three judges for the state supreme court for the first time in centuries.  Spending in the race has set a new national record.

Laurie Kinney of the group Justice at Stake tracks spending in judicial races across the country and says the money in the race for Pennsylvania’s high court is concerning.

“Fifteen-point-eight million dollars in the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court race topped a record that stood for more than ten years that was a state supreme court election in Illinois back in 2004.” That race cost $10.5 million.

Lynn Marks of the group Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, which advocates for appointed, not elected judges, says the money comes from people who want the judges to remember them after they are elected.

“It comes from lawyers unions and special interests who often have cases before the court,” she said.

Marks says a constitutional amendment for merit selection of judges has made it out of committee in the Pennsylvania house.

This is the first Pennsylvania Supreme Court election filling three seats since colonial times.  Two of the seats are open because justices resigned amid scandal.  The third needs to be filled becuase a justice reached mandatory retirement age of 78.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal