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State of Pennsylvania

History of Reform Efforts: Pennsylvania

Formal Changes Since Inception

Under Pennsylvania's original constitution, all judges were appointed to seven-year terms by a twelve- member executive council, whose members were elected by voters of the state's twelve counties.

All judges appointed for life by governor.

All judges appointed by governor with senate consent. Tenure of supreme court justices changed to fifteen years; tenure of court of common pleas judges changed to five years, except presiding judges who served ten years.

Constitution amended to provide for partisan election of all judges. Vacancies filled by gubernatorial appointment until next election.

All judges elected by the people. Tenure of supreme court justices increased to twenty-one years; justices not eligible for reelection. Tenure of all other judges increased to ten years. Two-thirds senate approval required for interim appointments.

Superior court created.

Appellate judicial elections changed from partisan to nonpartisan. Candidates prohibited from revealing party affiliations on the ballot or in their campaigns.

Act of 1913 repealed; appellate judicial elections made partisan again.

Governor Scranton became the first Pennsylvania governor to use a form of nominating commission to assist in selecting candidates to fill judicial vacancies.

Under new constitution, judges chosen in partisan elections, with retention elections after initial ten-year terms. Provision authorized voters to consider in the 1969 primary election whether judges should be appointed by the governor from a list of nominees submitted by the judicial qualifications commission. Commonwealth court created.