Two days ago, voters went to the polls to nominate county and municipal officers plus state, county and municipal judges. Because Pennsylvania primaries are closed, only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote.
To complicate matters, judges are not nominated via merit selection but rather by popular vote. Does the general population know who these judicial candidates are? I don’t think so.
In my view, we’d do better with merit selection such as found in the federal judiciary. There, federal judges are nominated by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In Pennsylvania, anyone can run for the judiciary as long as he or she has a law degree.
We should change this system. In the Bucks County Primary, 10 candidates were running for three seats on the Court of Common Pleas.
Although the Bucks County Bar Association endorsed no one, it did rank them via a plebiscite from the entire Bar. The plebiscite ranking has four categories: highly qualified, qualified, not qualified and no opinion. There are 731 members of the Bucks County Bar and 357 of them voted. Grace Deon, Dianne Magee and Jordan Yaeger led the field with “Highly Recommended” status.
The Bucks County Democratic Party endorsed three candidates (Charissa Liller, Jessica Vanderkam, and Jordan Yeager) and the Bucks County GOP also endorsed three (Denise Bowman, Grace Deon, and Allen Toadvine).
In my opinion, the governor should nominate all judicial candidates and have the state Senate confirm them. Our present system plays into the hands of those who would taint the judiciary. It takes millions to run a statewide campaign. Exposing candidates to economic pressure (candidates obligated to those who paid for the campaigns) makes a bad system worse.
In Bucks County, both political parties endorsed judicial candidates. It’s the only clue that voters had concerning worthiness. The bar association could do more to lead the fight for merit selection in the judiciary.
I turned to several lawyers whose opinions I value. They believed that three of the 10 candidates had the highest qualifications: Grace Deon, Dianne Magee, and Jordan Yeager. All had cross-filed and appeared on Democratic and Republican ballots.
Looking at other distressing news, Alabama became the lightning rod against abortion when it passed, and the governor signed into law, the most restrictive state in America to ban most abortions. The Alabama Legislature hopes that this new law will head to the U.S. Supreme Court, there to overturn Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term.
The big question is whether the Supreme Court will hear the case, and if so, how will it decide? Since the Trump presidency began, he has appointed and the Senate confirmed two conservative-leaning justices. Will the Supreme Court decide these cases with 5 to 4 votes? We’ll see.
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said it best: “This ban is dangerous and exceptionally cruel … and the bill’s authors want to use it to overturn Roe v. Wade.,” she said. “I’ve lived in that America and let me tell you … we are not going back…not now, not ever. We will fight this. And we will win.”
Jeffrey Toobin is a CNN commentator and author of best-sellers. In his “The Nine,” Toobin writes about the U.S. Supreme Court. The last sentence of the last chapter reads, We Americans can only blame ourselves for Supreme Court decisions that displease us. After all, it is we who elect Presidents and it is they who appoint justices. “We get what we deserve,” Toobin wrote.
I believe that the answer lies in electing more women to state and federal legislatures, governors … and yes, presidents.
Sincerely, Charles Meredith
By the way, did you watch the seventh and final NBA game with the 76ers against the Toronto Raptors? Alice Agnew is one of Mighty Betsy’s and my care givers. She used to play baseball (hardball and softball). Alice knows her way around athletics and confirmed that the Raptors committed a foul just before taking the winning shot that ended the 76ers season.
Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard should have been called for “walking,” that is, taking several steps without dribbling the ball. Agnes showed the film to me and it was plain as day. I counted four steps Kawhi took with the ball in his arms … like a football player cradling the ball.
When the next meeting of “Grumbles” occurs, I’ll bring up this infraction. It’s enough to make you weak!