Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hb 1336's 'Merit' Selection Won't Clean Up Pa.'s Judiciary

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hb 1336's 'Merit' Selection Won't Clean Up Pa.'s Judiciary

Article excerpt

The Center for Public Integrity issued its report card recently. Pennsylvania received an F for its "entrenched culture of malfeasance."

Not surprisingly, we got an F in judicial accountability. However, not one of the specific shortfalls mentioned would be ameliorated by passage of House Bill 1336 - the so-called "merit" selection of judges.

HB 1336 is a rambling exercise in self-aggrandizement by Harrisburg. The Post-Gazette should reconsider any support for this bill ("Choosing Judges: In Pennsylvania There Must Be a Better Way," Nov. 12 editorial). The legislation would have politicians pick a committee, which, in turn, picks the judges. Therefore, prima facie, judicial "merit" is ensured. What could possibly go wrong?

Among its many shortcomings, HB 1336 makes no attempt to define judicial "merit," nor does it outline how such merit is to be obtained, measured, preserved or communicated. After an appointed judge serves a four-year term, voters have a say in retention - but we will be doing so just as blindly as we do now. …

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