This November 2nd, we will elect new judges to Pennsylvania’s three statewide appellate courts – the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Superior Court, and Commonwealth Court, as well as ten judges to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
Recent history shows that Pennsylvania’s appellate courts play a leading role in the protection of our democracy. For example, in 2018 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court – which has a Democrat majority – mandated that the Commonwealth’s U.S. congressional districts be redrawn fairly to closely reflect the partisan composition of the state, after finding that they had been unfairly and unlawfully gerrymandered to favor Republicans.
More recently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down dismissals of lawsuits filed by the Trump Administration and other Republicans that contained baseless claims of widespread election fraud. Notably, this included reversals of decisions of our Commonwealth Court, which is believed to be the only court in the nation that made a ruling in the Trump Administration’s favor since the 2020 Presidential election. Notably, the Commonwealth Court currently has a 7-2 Republican majority. In short, if not for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversing the Commonwealth Court’s decision, Donald Trump might very well be President today.
Looking ahead, voter restriction laws are gaining momentum in Republican-controlled states across the U.S. In Pennsylvania, where Republicans currently control both the House and Senate, such voting restrictions could also soon be passed. Our best line of defense to prevent unconstitutional voter restriction laws from being enacted is likely to include the Pennsylvania Commonwealth and Supreme Courts.
That is why it is critical that Democrats turn out to vote for Democrat judges this November 2nd. While the courts do not make laws, they do interpret them, and the law’s interpretation can be the difference in maintaining our democracy, where everyone has an equal opportunity to vote and be heard.