Merit Selection

What is Merit Selection?

  • A new way for Pennsylvania to choose appellate judges.
  • A replacement for the current system of partisan elections with campaigns, fundraising, television ads and robo calls.
  • A hybrid system that combines the best features of appointive and elective systems and adds a new component - an independent, bipartisan citizens commission that screens and evaluates potential candidates for the bench.
  • The selection process has four steps:
    • screening and evaluation by a citizens’ nominating commission that recommends the most qualified candidates to the governor;
    • nomination by the governor of a candidate from the commission’s list;
    • confirmation by the senate; and after a number of years on the bench,
    • retention in a nonpartisan yes-no vote by the public.

Why Merit Selection?

Merit selection offers Pennsylvanians a better way to select judges. Merit selection is specifically designed to accomplish the most important element of a judicial selection system: getting the most qualified judges on the bench. And, merit selection effectively addresses the problems inherent in electing judges.

History of Judicial Selection in PA

Pennsylvania has not always elected judges.  In fact, Pennsylvania history reflects an ongoing concern with finding a better way to select judges.