New Report Finds PA Continues to Lead the Nation in Costly Judicial Elections

October 27, 2011

Today, the Justice at Stake Campaign, the Brennan Center for Justice and the National Institute on Money in State Politics released "The New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2009-2010."  The Report chronicles spending during the 2009-2010 judicial election cycle across the nation, and finds that Pennsylvania's 2009 Supreme Court race was second in cost only to Michigan.  But for the 2007-2010 period, which encompassed two Supreme Court election cycles in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania remained "the nation's costliest state for high court races." PMC issued a press release with the Justice at Stake Campaign to highlight the Pennsylvania data.
 
In addition to the Report, Justice at Stake today also released national polling data revealing that 83% of voters believe that campaign contributions in judicial elections have a "great deal" or "some" influence on judicial decisions.  This is consistent with the 2010 Pennsylvania poll (the full poll is available here) that revealed that 75% were concerned about the effects of such contributions. More and more, judicial elections are creating and perpetuating the perception that "justice is for sale."
 
The good news is the poll demonstrates public support for solving the problem by changing the way we select judges: 62% favor Merit Selection.  This mirrors the 2010 Pa. poll as well.
 
Merit Selection legislation is pending in the House and Senate, and it is likely that the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the legislation in the next few weeks.  We are hopeful that this will move us forward to give Pennsylvanians the opportunity to decide whether to change the way we choose appellate court judges.