Democrats sweep PA Supreme Court and other State Judicial Races

CommCtIt was a good night for Pennsylvania Democrats.  It was also a good night for Plaintiffs and Claimants.

After a record setting $16 million was spent on state judicial races, the Democrats swept three Pennsylvania Supreme Court seats, taking a 5-2 majority control, and likely ensuring control of the state’s high Court for the next decade.   Previously, the Republicans had control of the Supreme Court since 2010.  The record high spending on State Supreme Court seats set a national record.  Hard to believe?  No.  Why?  It has not been since the 1700’s, no that is not a misprint, the 1700’s, since three seats at a time, with no incumbent up for retention, but three completely open seats, was on the ballot at one time.  That is historic.

Pennsylvania’s highest Court has been plagued with scandal over the past five years.  These three seats were open due to corruption and the porn email scandal that is gripping Harrisburg.   The Supreme Court in Pennsylvania is a powerful body, affecting public policy from top to bottom.  Not only is it powerful in terms of policy, but it has a unique position to affect the electoral map, not just in the state, but nationally.  When it come to redistricting legislative districts, both state and congressional, if the GOP and the DEMS do not agree on a plan, then the Pennsylvania Supreme Court appoints a five-person reapportionment commission to determine the map.  The Court is now controlled by the DEMS with a 5-2 majority.  The significance of that can’t be understated.  Winning seats on the PA Supreme Court were Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty and PA Superior Court judges David Wecht and Christine Donohue.

The change in majority of the Court will likely also benefit Claimants and Plaintiffs, those aggrieved injured parties.  That’s a big deal from our perspective.

There was also one vacancy each on the Commonwealth Court and the Superior Court.  The Superior Court hears cases involving criminal and some civil appeals.  The Commonwealth Court hears only cases brought by or against the Commonwealth.  DEM Alice Dubow won the open seat on the Superior Court and DEM Michael Wojcik won the open seat on the Commonwealth Court.



Mark Buterbaugh

Attorney representing injured workers and Social Security Disability clients in Pennsylvania and Maryland.