March 29, 2016
ISSUE | JUDGES Power to the people Rebecca Love Kourlis makes a compelling argument for judicial merit selection ("Opening creates a chance to try judicial merit selection," Wednesday). But she ignores a downside of judicial appointment: government by proclamation. Some of the most important issues of our time (such as abortion and gay marriage) were not decided by the people but proclaimed by an appointed federal judiciary. A person can be pro-choice and nonjudgmental and still see judicial proclamation as an abuse.
February 15, 2013
By Chris Bonneau Once again, the Pennsylvania legislature is considering a change in how state Supreme Court justices are selected. Under the current system, justices attain their seats in a competitive partisan election, and they keep their positions through noncompetitive retention elections. Some lawmakers are proposing that a commission nominate candidates, with the governor selecting a justice from among those nominees. Justices would still keep their seats in noncompetitive retention elections.
November 8, 2012 |
SAMIYRAH TUCKER was in tears Tuesday morning when poll workers in West Philadelphia told her she had to cast a provisional ballot because her name was not on the registration books. "I've been voting all my life, and they can't find all of our names," Tucker said inside of Henry C. Lea elementary school, at 47th and Locust streets. "Obama is going to lose votes because of this. I don't trust the [provisional] ballot. " Tucker was one of many voters whose names were not on the books and had to vote with provisional ballots, which are counted several days after the election.
November 7, 2012 |
A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge has refused to order the Board of Elections to deliver extra provisional ballots to all polling places in the city, saying reports of ballot shortages appeared to be exaggerated. Pamela Pryor Dembe, president judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, rejected a petition from Organizing for America, a ground-level arm of the Democratic National Committee. National Democrats have been leaning heavily on the City Commissioners, who oversee the Board of Elections, to send more provisional ballots based on reports that many people were not appearing in the poll books, and that polling places were running out of provisional ballots that would be their only alternative for voting.
September 17, 2011
While the spectacle of a Pittsburgh-area state senator being tried for improperly aiding her sister's state Supreme Court election campaign is bad, at least the case could give a welcome push to renewed efforts to enact reforms that would help shield all Pennsylvania appellate judges from politics. State Sen. Jane Orie (R., Allegheny) may or may not be convicted of ordering her Senate staff to perform political tasks to help Justice Joan Orie Melvin's campaign. But as long as appellate judges are chosen in contested elections, Pennsylvanians will continue to suspect - even if wrongly - that politics taints justice in the state.
November 20, 2010
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has given Sarah Palin a lesson in "going rogue. " Murkowski, 53, completed a stunning turnaround by winning reelection as a write-in candidate. It was the first time in more than 50 years anyone was elected to the Senate as a write-in. Her victory over Republican tea-party candidate Joe Miller is a popular rebuke to Palin, who supported Miller. He defeated Murkowski in the GOP primary, but Murkowski stormed back in the general election. Murkowski persuaded more than 100,000 voters to write in her name.
April 22, 2010 |
Gov. Rendell on Wednesday renewed his call to change the way state judges are chosen in Pennsylvania, citing the "explosion" of campaign spending and growing number of judicial scandals. Rendell said the election of judges had led to the influence of big money in judicial races, which has "totally eroded public confidence in the judicial system. " The governor and others have advocated the merit selection of judges for the Commonwealth, Superior and Supreme Courts. Under such a plan, a 14-member nonpartisan panel would pick the 31 judges for those courts.
January 26, 2010
City Democratic Party boss and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.) should reconsider seeking another interim judicial appointment for Joyce Eubanks. Eubanks, a veteran public defense lawyer and political insider, served as an interim city Common Pleas Court judge, but failed to win election last fall. She capped her 15-month appointment to the court with an unusual ruling in a theft case that is being challenged by District Attorney Seth Williams. The district attorney contends that Eubanks didn't just make a bad call, but that she actually overstepped her legal authority.
June 18, 2009 |
Imagine a defendant ordered to pay $50 million in damages. He appeals to the state's highest court. He throws $3 million into a campaign to seat a favored judge on that court. The damage award is wiped out. Last week, in a West Virginia case known as Caperton v. Massey, the U.S. Supreme Court looked at those very facts and called it an extreme case - so extreme that the judge's failure to disqualify himself offends the Constitution. So what does this mean for those of us who don't have $50 million at stake?