Common Cause Pennsylvania Opposes House Bill 196

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Statement of Micah Sims, Executive Director of Common Cause Pennsylvania

Common Cause PA actively opposes House Bill 196, which would establish judicial districts here in the Commonwealth. The role of the judiciary is to decide cases based on the law and the facts in front of them, not to provide representation for Pennsylvanians. Electing judges in partisan elections by judicial districts subverts the role of the judiciary and encroaches on the roles of the other two branches of government.

While we acknowledge the importance of geographic and other diversity on Pennsylvania’s courts, this constitutional amendment is not the path to achieving it. Instead, we encourage the General Assembly to pass House Bill 111, which would create a merit selection system for our appellate courts and ensure that the most qualified, diverse judges sit on the bench, rather than those who have the skills to raise money and win elections.

Further, this bill allows the General Assembly to create judicial districts via future legislation. As we have seen in the redistricting process for state legislative and congressional maps, Pennsylvania lawmakers should not hold the sole responsibility for drawing district lines.

For these reasons, we continue to oppose House Bill 196 and urge all members of the House to vote no.