Bills Attacking the Judiciary in the 2021 - 2022 Legislative Session
There are a number of bills pending in the current Pennsylvania legislative session which threaten the independence of the judiciary, our important third branch of government. All of these bills are proposed constitutional amendments, which means that they must be passed by the PA General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions, be published to the community and then go to voters for approval in a ballot referendum.
House Bill 38
HB 38 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would empower our state legislature to create judicial districts for Pennsylvania's appellate courts. Candidates for the Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth Courts would be elected by voters in these districts, rather than in statewide elections. Appellate judges apply the law equally across the Commonwealth. This measure would put pressure on judges to consider constituents' opinions when making decisions.
This bill was already passed by the PA General Assembly in the 2019 - 2020 legislative session. In the current legislative session, the bill was scheduled for a House floor vote on January 12, 2022, but it ultimately did not receive a floor vote on that date. However, it can be brought to the House and Senate floor on a moment’s notice.
House Bill 1880
HB 1880 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit Pennsylvania appellate court judges to two ten-year terms.
The bill was quickly introduced and voted out of the House Judiciary Committee in less than one week in December 2021. No testimony or constituent input was considered prior to its approval by the House Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 2141
HB 2141 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would eliminate retention elections for judges and replace them with full-fledged elections.
This bill was also quickly introduced and voted out of the House Judiciary Committee in less than one week in December 2021, with no testimony or constituent input.