Special Interest Money Is Pouring Into State Supreme Court Case, Raising Alarms

(PatriotWise.com)- According to new reports, special interest money is pouring in to help decide who will take up a spot on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This year, Democrat Maria McLaughlin has raised almost $2.7 million in campaign funds, which includes some $1.8 million from a Philadelphia advocacy group made up of criminal and civil trial lawyers, as well as labor unions representing teachers, police, and truck drivers.

Meanwhile, Republican Kevin Brobson raised most of his $2.8 million in funds from just one political action committee, known as the Commonwealth Leaders Fund. The organization takes most of its income from political action committees connected to Jeffrey Yass, a Philadelphia-based billionaire who owns a financial and technology company. He is known for spending millions of dollars on pro-education causes, including tuition vouchers for children in struggling districts.

According to a report from Trib Live, these huge sums of money being raised for an off-year race proves the importance of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which has been the arbiter of the most contentious partisan contexts in recent years.

On November 2, Republican outgoing Justice Thomas Saylor will be replaced, but the balance of power won’t change. The Democrats already control five of the seven seats on the court, and whoever becomes the new justice will either become a part of that majority or be a part of the minority. Technically, nothing will change.

Nonetheless, the huge amount of money to both Republican and Democrat campaigns has raised eyebrows and concerns about Pennsylvania’s lax campaign finance rules that don’t put a limit on the amount of money that can be raised for spent on any one campaign.

This is also one of just a handful of states that elects appellate court judges and Supreme Court justices.

What do you think – does this state need reform?