It's A Pivotal Judicial Election In Pennsylvania This Year
October 26, 2015

The Nov. 3 election is Pennsylvania is a really important one for two reasons: redistricting, and Philadelphia school district funding.

No messing around this year: You HAVE to vote. You may think you can blow it off, especially if you live in Philadelphia, since you know the Democratic candidate for mayor is going to win. But the State Supreme Court judicial elections are just as important, and even a small bump in a low-turnout election can lead to Democratic victory. Via Daily Kos:

These elections are critical not just because Democrats might retake a majority on the high court for the first time in years: They will determine how easy it will be for either party to win the legislature during the next decade. Whichever party controls the court appoints a tie-breaking member to the redistricting commission and most recently, that has been a Republican who voted for partisan gerrymanders. In 2012, that system led to Republicans winning the legislature despite losing the popular vote because they had drawn the maps. The new maps were used for the first time during the 2014 red wave, and Republicans won their largest majorities in generations even though Democrats decisively unseated unpopular GOP Gov. Tom Corbett.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf now faces many obstacles from legislative Republicans and this will continue for his entire time in office barring an unforeseeable Democratic wave. Even though President Obama won the Keystone State 52 to 47, Mitt Romney carried 111 of the 203 state House seats and 27 of the 50 state Senate districts. As long as a Republican state Supreme Court keeps the tie-breaking vote for redistricting, Team Red will keep doing everything they can to preserve their majorities in this light blue state.

Our political system is broken when low-turnout, partisan, judicial elections will determine not only the composition of the state's highest court, but which of the two major parties gets to rig the state legislative election process for 10 years. If we care about advancing progressive policies in Pennsylvania, a state without any ballot initiative process, we absolutely must regain both chambers of the legislature. That task will be tremendously easier under Democratic-drawn maps than Republican-drawn ones, which is why the first step is to retake the state Supreme Court.

The other important reason is the school funding case:

An appeal for the case to be heard in the state's highest court was filed in May by the Public Interest Law Center and Education Law Center, who are representing the plaintiffs.

The brief argues that Pennsylvania's school funding system is broken, making the availability of high-quality public education a "function of community wealth rather than a constitutional guarantee.”

Pennsylvania's constitution ensures a "thorough and efficient system of public education" for all students.

"Students in poor school districts are denied these rights by an irrational, unpredictable school finance scheme that is overly reliant on local property taxes and deprives students of the basic resources they need to meet state academic standards,” said Maura McInerney, an attorney at the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania.

β€œThe legislature claims that as long as it keeps school doors open and lights on, it has met its constitutional obligation and that the courts have no role to play in interpreting the constitution. It is now up to the Supreme Court to address this unconscionable claim. Our state constitution is clear: The court cannot close its doors to the children of Pennsylvania.”

The Democrats for the State Supreme Court: David Wecht, Christine Donohue, and Kevin Dougherty. And while you're in the voting booth, Democrat Alice Beck Dubow is running for Superior Court, and Michael Wojcik for Commonwealth Court.

These people will serve as the judicial firewall between us and Republican overreach. Send this to every Democrat you know in Pennsylvania, and remind them to vote on Nov. 3.

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