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Advocacy Group Says PA Needs a New Way to Select Judges

Advocates for a new way of selecting appellate court judges say the one statewide contest for Superior Court underscores their case that voters have too little information to responsibly elect judges.

The advocacy group Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is pushing to replace elections with a new process called merit selection.

Under the proposed system, appellate judges would be vetted by an independent commission, nominated by the governor, and confirmed by the state Senate, before ultimately facing voters in retention elections.

The group’s director, Lynn Marks, says it’s not just that people have too little information to elect appellate court judges.

"Judicial elections are just increasingly expensive and the real problem is that most of the money for judicial elections comes from attorneys and interest groups who often appear in state court and that’s just not right," Marks said.

The website Politics PA reported last week that the Democratic candidate for Superior Court has raised more than $48,000 and spent about $15,000.

The site reported the Republican candidate has raised more than $81,000 and spent more than $68,000.