Suggested Constitutional Amendment Threatens Independence of Pennsylvania Courts | Letter

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House Bill 38 is an attempt by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution and politicize the Pennsylvania court system. Some lawmakers hope to achieve this by establishing judicial precincts for state courts of appeals. Instead of being chosen through statewide elections, these judges would be elected by regions drawn by lot by lawmakers. This proposed change gives the general assembly undue influence over the courts and makes appellate judges dependent on the ruling parties in their constituencies.

Undermining checks and balances between branches of government weakens the judiciary and opens the door to legislative corruption. Additionally, abolishing our franchise for all judges emphasizes a judge’s location and political leanings against their qualifications.

The Pennsylvania Bar Association, Pennsylvania for Modern Courts, and other court organizations oppose House Bill 38. From a purely practical standpoint, the bill offers no specific details or steps as to how it would be implemented, nor does it include an explanation of the process or the cost of implementing it.

Finally, Pennsylvania would become the only state to grant legislators this excess leverage over the state’s judicial system. Legislative leaders would be free to gerrymander judicial district lines to invalidate citizens’ votes to give the ruling party an unfair advantage. Neither party should ever be given this kind of unbridled license over the courts established to serve the people impartially.

For more information, visit www.fairdistrictspa.com, and please contact your state legislators and ask them to oppose House Bill 38.

beverly springer

Emmaus

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