Governor Rendell Welcomes New Poll Showing Strong Public Support for Merit Selection of Appellate Court Judges

Jun 09, 2010, 13:06 ET from Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today heralded the release of a new public opinion poll showing 93 percent of Pennsylvanians want the opportunity to vote on whether to change the way appellate court judges are selected.

Governor Rendell was joined for the poll's release by former Pennsylvania governors Dick Thornburgh, Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker – all Republicans. Governors Thornburgh and Ridge participated in the event by telephone.

"Merit selection is a bipartisan issue, and a long overdue reform," said Governor Rendell.  "There are many reasons why Pennsylvania needs to make this change, and the bottom line is that if we embrace merit selection, we will get the most qualified, fair and impartial judges to serve our residents. The people understand this, which is why they overwhelmingly want the right to vote on a new way to select judges."

The poll, conducted recently for Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts and its lobbying affiliate, PMCAction, found 73 percent do not believe that the most qualified candidates win elections, and 76 percent believe campaign contributions influence judicial decision-making.

Considered together, reform advocates said those two findings indicate public frustration with the electoral system and justify a desire to find a better way to choose judges for the Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth Courts.

The poll found that 62 percent of respondents favor replacing the current appellate judicial election system with merit selection, a hybrid system that combines elements of appointive and electoral systems, with a citizens nominating commission that screens candidates and recommends the most highly qualified for possible nomination.

The full poll and results are online at:

Media Contact: Gary Tuma; 717-783-1116

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor