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Alarm Bells Ring as Pennsylvania Legislature Moves to Gerrymander Judicial Benches

Pennsylvania house republicans launch assault on state judiciaryRepublican members of Pennsylvania’s legislature aren’t very pleased with the way the Commonwealth’s courts have come down on a variety of key issues. At the top of that list is, of course, the gift that never stops giving when it comes to whipping the base into a frenzy: the endlessly recounted and consistently verified results of the 2020 election.

Rather than taking the defeat with honor and integrity and understanding that the nation came together to reject the policies and doctrines of the former administration, Pennsylvania’s legislators on the right are working on an assault on democracy so vile it is making national headlines. Their tactic du jour is to use a procedural rule to eliminate the right of Pennsylvania’s citizens to independently choose the Commonwealth’s judges.

HB38 would allow legislators to gerrymander Pennsylvania into a number of imaginary zones or districts. Citizens would only be allowed to vote in judicial elections within their gerrymandered judicial districts and new districts could be created or re-drawn whenever the legislature deemed it necessary.

A move like this should send chills down every Pennsylvanians’ spine, no matter what side of the aisle they hail from. Independent judiciaries are the cornerstone of the rights and freedoms we as Americans hold dear and one cannot espouse their love and adoration for our country while simultaneously supporting the kind of voter suppression tactics we’ve come to expect from the likes of North Korea, Russia, and China.

Voters will have a chance to kill HB38 and protect their courts from this assault, but they have to pay attention. In order to be elevated into law, this kind of legislation has to be voted on by the citizens as a ballot initiative. Legislators are counting on the electorate to blindly vote yes on a complicated piece of legislation out of a lack of understanding or interest, but a vote against the bill will tell legislators – on both sides of the aisle – to stay out of the affairs of the judiciary and stay in their lane.

Lopez McHugh joins the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Judicial Administration Committee and countless other legal associations and committees across our great Commonwealth and country in opposition to HB38 not only because it is simply a bad law, but because it is fundamentally anti-American.

If you would like to voice your own opposition to the legislature’s attempt to silence your vote and shape the judiciary to their interests rather than yours, the Philadelphia Bar Association has made it very easy to do so. You can take action on their website.