Pennsylvania House advances proposed constitutional amendment on judges

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The state House has sent the Senate a proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that would radically change the way appeals court judges are selected. The proposal comes after Democrats won control of the state Supreme Court, which then redrew the state’s congressional districts. 

Members of Commonwealth Court, Superior Court and the Supreme Court would be elected by voters in regional judicial districts. Montgomery County Democrat Tim Briggs, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, railed against the proposal before the GOP-controlled House passed it along mostly party lines.

"This is an attempt to rig the judiciary. This is nothing more, nothing less," he said. 

Republican Russ Diamond, sponsor of the proposal, says Philadelphia and Allegheny counties dominate the courts.

"I believe the communities of interest regionally in our Commonwealth deserve to be heard from on an equal footing," Diamond said. 

The proposed amendment to the state constitution will now have to be approved by the Senate, and approved again by the House and Senate in the next two-year session before it can go to voters in a referendum.