Rendell calls for merit selection for judges

    Two bills before the General Assembly would get rid of elections for appellate judges, and replace them with a merit selection system. Governor Rendell is urging legislators to vote on the measures.

    Governor Ed Rendell is reaffirming his call to change the way Pennsylvania selects its appellate judges.

    Two bills before the General Assembly would get rid of elections for appellate judges, and replace them with a merit selection system.

    Governor Rendell is urging legislators to vote on the measures.

    He says judicial candidates leave themselves vulnerable to charges of outside influence when they solicit donations from lawyers and legal interest groups.

    “The two candidates raised and spent $3.6 million,” says Rendell. “And when you factor in in-kind contributions, it was $4.7 million. That has grown from in 2001, with our two candidates running in the general election for Supreme Court, they spent $2.1 million.

    A switch to merit selection would require a constitutional amendment.

    That means the General Assembly would need to pass a bill in two consecutive sessions, and then voters would have to approve the measure in a referendum.

    Rendell says Pennsylvania is one of just six states that select all of their judges through partisan elections.

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