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PRIOR PASSAGE - NONE
PRINTER'S NO. 353
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
361
Session of
2017
INTRODUCED BY WILLIAMS, SCHWANK, WAGNER, HAYWOOD AND
RESCHENTHALER, FEBRUARY 15, 2017
REFERRED TO JUDICIARY, FEBRUARY 15, 2017
A JOINT RESOLUTION
Proposing integrated amendments to the Constitution of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, changing and adding provisions
relating to selection of justices and judges.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby resolves as follows:
Section 1. The following integrated amendments to the
Constitution of Pennsylvania are proposed in accordance with
Article XI:
(1) That section 8(b) of Article IV be amended to read:
§ 8. Appointing power.
* * *
(b) [The] Except as provided in Article V, the Governor
shall fill vacancies in offices to which he appoints by
nominating to the Senate a proper person to fill the vacancy
within 90 days of the first day of the vacancy and not
thereafter. The Senate shall act on each executive nomination
within 25 legislative days of its submission. If the Senate has
not voted upon a nomination within 15 legislative days following
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such submission, any five members of the Senate may, in writing,
request the presiding officer of the Senate to place the
nomination before the entire Senate body whereby the nomination
must be voted upon prior to the expiration of five legislative
days or 25 legislative days following submission by the
Governor, whichever occurs first. If the nomination is made
during a recess or after adjournment sine die, the Senate shall
act upon it within 25 legislative days after its return or
reconvening. If the Senate for any reason fails to act upon a
nomination submitted to it within the required 25 legislative
days, the nominee shall take office as if the appointment had
been consented to by the Senate. [The] Except as provided in
Article V, the Governor shall in a similar manner fill vacancies
in the offices of Auditor General, State Treasurer, [justice,
judge, justice of the peace] judge, magisterial district judge
and in any other elective office he is authorized to fill. In
the case of a vacancy in an elective office, a person shall be
elected to the office on the next election day appropriate to
the office unless the first day of the vacancy is within two
calendar months immediately preceding the election day in which
case the election shall be held on the second succeeding
election day appropriate to the office.
* * *
(2) That section 13 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 13. [Election of justices,] Selection of justices, judges and
[justices of the peace] magisterial district judges;
vacancies.
(a) [Justices, judges] Judges , other than judges of the
Superior Court and Commonwealth Court, and [justices of the
peace] magisterial district judges shall be elected at the
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municipal election next preceding the commencement of their
respective terms of office by the electors of the [Commonwealth
or the] respective districts in which they are to serve.
(b) A vacancy in the office of [justice, judge or justice of
the peace] judge, other than judge of the Superior Court and
Commonwealth Court, or magisterial district judge shall be
filled by appointment by the Governor. The appointment shall be
with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the members elected
to the Senate, except in the case of [justices of the peace]
magisterial district judges which shall be by a majority. The
person so appointed shall serve for a term ending on the first
Monday of January following the next municipal election more
than ten months after the vacancy occurs or for the remainder of
the unexpired term whichever is less.[, except in the case of
persons selected as additional judges to the Superior Court,
where the General Assembly may stagger and fix the length of the
initial terms of such additional judges by reference to any of
the first, second and third municipal elections more than ten
months after the additional judges are selected.] The manner by
which any additional judges are selected shall be provided by
this section for the filling of vacancies in judicial offices.
(b.1) The Governor shall appoint each justice of the Supreme
Court and judge of the Superior Court and Commonwealth Court to
the initial term of that justice or judge. The Governor shall
nominate to the Senate individuals for appointment exclusively
from the list of individuals recommended for appointment by the
Appellate Court Nominating Commission described under section
14(a), and the appointment shall be with the advice and consent
of a majority of the members elected to the Senate. Within 30
days after receiving a list of recommendations from the
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commission, the Governor shall nominate to the Senate one person
from the list to fill the vacancy for which the list was
submitted. The Senate shall act on each nomination of a justice
of the Supreme Court or judge of the Superior Court and
Commonwealth Court within 15 legislative days after receiving
the nomination from the Governor and shall notify the Governor
of the action it took within 24 hours of taking it. If the
nomination is made during a recess or after adjournment sine
die, the Senate shall act upon it within 15 legislative days
after its return or reconvening and notify the Governor as
provided in this subsection. If the Senate for any reason fails
to act upon a nomination submitted to it within the required
number of days after submission by the Governor, the nominee
shall take office as if the appointment had been consented to by
the Senate. The Governor shall make a substitute nomination from
the commission's list within 30 days after receiving
notification from the Senate of the rejection of a prior
nominee, and the Senate shall act upon the nomination in the
manner prescribed in this subsection. If the Senate rejects a
total of three nominations made for a specific vacancy, the
commission shall appoint any other person on the list, and the
appointee shall take office upon notification of the appointment
by the commission and neither the Governor nor the Senate shall
participate further in the appointment process for that vacancy.
(b.2) A vacancy in the office of justice of the Supreme
Court or judge of the Superior Court or Commonwealth Court shall
be filled by the procedure provided in section 13(b.1).
Additional judges to the Superior Court and Commonwealth Court
shall be selected as provided in section 13(b.1).
(c) The provisions of section 13(b) and (b.2) shall not
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apply [either] in the case of a vacancy to be filled by
retention election as provided in section 15(b)[, or]. Section
13(b) shall not apply in the case of a vacancy created by
failure of a [justice or] judge to file a declaration for
retention election as provided in section 15(b). In the case of
a vacancy occurring at the expiration of an appointive term
under section 13(b), the vacancy shall be filled by election as
provided in section 13(a).
[(d) At the primary election in 1969, the electors of the
Commonwealth may elect to have the justices and judges of the
Supreme, Superior, Commonwealth and all other statewide courts
appointed by the Governor from a list of persons qualified for
the offices submitted to him by the Judicial Qualifications
Commission. If a majority vote of those voting on the question
is in favor of this method of appointment, then whenever any
vacancy occurs thereafter for any reason in such court, the
Governor shall fill the vacancy by appointment in the manner
prescribed in this subsection. Such appointment shall not
require the consent of the Senate.]
(e) Each justice or judge of the Superior Court or
Commonwealth Court appointed by the Governor under section
[13(d)] 13(b.1) or (b.2) shall hold office for an initial term
ending the first Monday of January following the next municipal
election more than [24] 48 months following the appointment.
(3) That section 14 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 14. [Judicial Qualifications] Appellate Court Nominating
Commission.
[(a) Should the method of judicial selection be adopted as
provided in section 13 (d), there shall be a Judicial
Qualifications Commission, composed of four non-lawyer electors
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appointed by the Governor and three non-judge members of the bar
of the Supreme Court appointed by the Supreme Court. No more
than four members shall be of the same political party. The
members of the commission shall serve for terms of seven years,
with one member being selected each year. The commission shall
consider all names submitted to it and recommend to the Governor
not fewer than ten nor more than 20 of those qualified for each
vacancy to be filled.
(b) During his term, no member shall hold a public office or
public appointment for which he receives compensation, nor shall
he hold office in a political party or political organization.
(c) A vacancy on the commission shall be filled by the
appointing authority for the balance of the term.]
(a) There shall be established an independent commission
within the Executive Department known as the Appellate Court
Nominating Commission. The commission shall consist of 15
Pennsylvania residents who are 18 years of age or older. Seven
members shall be public members, who shall be selected as
provided by law. Four members shall be appointed by the Governor
and four members shall be appointed by the General Assembly. The
members appointed by the General Assembly must be attorneys and
shall be appointed as follows: one each shall be appointed by
the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Minority Leader of
the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the
Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.
(b) The General Assembly shall provide for the nomination of
public members by groups located in Pennsylvania and shall
further provide for the selection of public members from
individuals nominated by those groups. No one holding elective
or appointive public office or designees or appointees of anyone
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holding elective or appointive public office shall participate
in the nomination or appointment of public members, provided
that the Secretary of the Commonwealth may be designated to
facilitate the process of nomination and appointment of public
members. Each of the members appointed by the General Assembly
shall be members of the bar of the Supreme Court who are not
justices, judges or magisterial district judges. The members
appointed under this subsection shall be residents of at least
four different counties at the time of appointment and during
their terms. If a member becomes a resident of a county of that
of another member appointed by the General Assembly, the member
shall forfeit his or her membership and the General Assembly
shall appoint another member under this subsection.
(c) Two of the members appointed by the Governor shall be
lawyers who are licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court
and who are not justices, judges or magisterial district judges.
The other two members appointed by the Governor shall not be
attorneys licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court and
shall not be justices, judges or magisterial district judges.
The members appointed by the Governor shall be residents of at
least four different counties. No more than two of the members
appointed by the Governor shall be registered in the same
political party.
(d) Each member of the commission shall have been a resident
of this Commonwealth for one year prior to that member's
appointment and shall reside in this Commonwealth during that
member's term. In making appointments to the commission, each
nominating or appointing authority shall take into consideration
that the commission should include men and women as well as
individuals from the civic, labor and business communities and
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individuals who come from racially and ethnically diverse
backgrounds and who reflect the geographic diversity of this
Commonwealth.
(e) Each member shall be appointed for a four-year term,
except that the initial appointments shall have staggered terms
as provided by law. Each member shall serve only until the end
of that member's term. A member who has served a full term shall
not be permitted to serve on the commission during the next
succeeding term. An appointment of two years or less, whether by
initial appointment or by appointment to fill an unexpired term,
shall not be deemed a full term. A vacancy shall be filled for
the remainder of the term to which the member was appointed in
the same manner as the vacating member was appointed, except
that the General Assembly may provide for a different manner for
filling the vacancy of a public member.
(f) No member, during the member's term, shall hold office
in any political party or political organization or hold elected
or appointed public office, compensated or uncompensated, except
that members may serve as part-time solicitors to units of local
government. Neither any employee of the unified judicial system
nor any lobbyist shall be eligible for appointment to the
commission. Members shall not be compensated for their services
as members of the commission, but shall be reimbursed for
expenses necessarily incurred in the discharge of their official
duties in accordance with Commonwealth policy in effect for the
Executive Department. Members of the General Assembly shall not
be eligible for appointment to the commission for a period of
one year following their service in the General Assembly.
Members of the judiciary shall not be eligible for appointment
to the commission for a period of one year following their
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service on the judiciary. Governors and Lieutenant Governors
shall not be eligible for appointment to the commission for a
period of one year following their service as Governor or
Lieutenant Governor.
(g) The General Assembly may provide for additional
qualifications of members of the commission, not inconsistent
with this article, as it deems appropriate in furthering the
purposes of this article.
(h) The General Assembly shall provide for the manner of
operation of the commission, except that the commission shall
establish its own rules of procedure and shall be given
authority to operate independently consistent with the
provisions of this article.
(i) Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of justice of
the Supreme Court or judge of the Superior Court or
Commonwealth Court, the commission shall publicly announce the
vacancy and solicit applications. When it is known that a
vacancy on the Supreme Court, the Superior Court or
Commonwealth Court will occur in the future on a date certain,
the selection process shall begin no later than 90 days prior to
that date. From the applications received, the commission shall
agree, by the affirmative votes from at least eight of the
members, on a list of five individuals most qualified to hold
the office and shall submit the list to the Governor. Only one
list may be supplied by the commission for each vacancy. In
making their selection, the members shall consider each
applicant's qualifications and each person whose name is
submitted to the Governor shall:
(1) be a licensed member of the bar of the Supreme Court in
good standing;
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(2) for an aggregate of at least 10 years preceding the
person's selection, have practiced law, served as judge of a
court or courts of record in this Commonwealth, served as a
judge of a Federal court or been engaged in a law-related
occupation; and
(3) have demonstrated integrity, judicial temperament,
professional competence and experience and commitment to the
community.
The commission shall consider that each of the appellate courts
include both men and women who come from racially and ethnically
diverse backgrounds and who reflect the geographic diversity of
this Commonwealth.
(j) The General Assembly may provide for other procedural
provisions relating to the nomination of justices and judges,
not inconsistent with this article, as it may deem necessary to
carry out the purposes of this article.
(k) The commission shall be provided with staff and its
budget administered as provided by law. The budget request for
the commission shall be made by the Governor as a separate item
in the Governor's budget submitted pursuant to section 12(a) of
Article VIII.
(4) That section 15 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 15. Tenure of justices, judges and [justices of the peace]
magisterial district judges.
(a) [The] Except as provided in section 13(e), the regular
term of office of justices and judges shall be [ten] 10 years
and the regular term of office for judges of the municipal court
in the City of Philadelphia and of [justices of the peace]
magisterial district judges shall be six years. The tenure of
any justice or judge shall not be affected by changes in
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judicial districts or by reduction in the number of judges.
(b) A justice or judge [elected under section 13(a),] of the
Superior Court or Commonwealth Court appointed under section
[13(d)] 13(b.1) or (b.2) or retained under this section [15(b)]
or a judge elected under section 13(a) or retained under this
section may file a declaration of candidacy for retention
election with the officer of the Commonwealth who under law
shall have supervision over elections on or before the first
Monday of January of the year preceding the year in which [his]
the term of office of the justice or judge expires. If no
declaration is filed, a vacancy shall exist upon the expiration
of the term of office of such justice or judge, to be filled by
[election under section 13(a) or by appointment under section
13(d) if applicable] appointment under section 13(b.1) or by
election under section 13(a). If a justice or judge files a
declaration, [his name] the name of the justice or judge shall
be submitted to the electors without party designation, on a
separate judicial ballot or in a separate column on voting
machines, at the municipal election immediately preceding the
expiration of the term of office of the justice or judge, to
determine only the question whether [he] the justice or judge
shall be retained in office. If a majority is against retention,
a vacancy shall exist upon the expiration of [his] the term of
office of that justice or judge, to be filled by appointment
under section 13(b) or [under section 13(d) if applicable]
(b.2). If a majority favors retention, the justice or judge
shall serve for the regular term of office provided herein,
unless sooner removed or retired. At the expiration of each term
a justice or judge shall be eligible for retention as provided
herein, subject only to the retirement provisions of this
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article.
(c) The provisions of section 15(b) shall not apply to
magisterial district justices.
Section 2. (a) Upon the first passage by the General
Assembly of these proposed constitutional amendments, the
Secretary of the Commonwealth shall proceed immediately to
comply with the advertising requirements of section 1 of Article
XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania and shall transmit the
required advertisements to two newspapers in every county in
which such newspapers are published in sufficient time after
passage of these proposed constitutional amendments.
(b) Upon the second passage by the General Assembly of these
proposed constitutional amendments, the Secretary of the
Commonwealth shall proceed immediately to comply with the
advertising requirements of section 1 of Article XI of the
Constitution of Pennsylvania and shall transmit the required
advertisements to two newspapers in every county in which such
newspapers are published in sufficient time after passage of
these proposed constitutional amendments. The Secretary of the
Commonwealth shall submit the proposed constitutional amendments
under section 1 to the qualified electors of this Commonwealth
as a single ballot question at the first primary, general or
municipal election which meets the requirements of and is in
conformance with section 1 of Article XI of the Constitution of
Pennsylvania and which occurs at least three months after the
proposed constitutional amendments are passed by the General
Assembly.
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