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A00811
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
111
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY SCHEMEL, McCLINTON, SIMS, ISAACSON, LAWRENCE,
BURGOS, BULLOCK, TOBASH, BERNSTINE, JONES, HILL-EVANS, MOUL,
MULLINS AND DeLISSIO, APRIL 15, 2019
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, APRIL 15, 2019
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
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not voted upon a nomination within 15 legislative days following
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 2 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 2. Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court (a) shall be the highest court of the
Commonwealth and in this court shall be reposed the supreme
judicial power of the Commonwealth;
(b) shall consist of seven justices, to be selected as
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provided in section 14, one of whom shall be the Chief Justice;
and
(c) shall have such jurisdiction as shall be provided by
law.
(3) That section 3 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 3. Superior Court.
The Superior Court shall be a statewide court, and shall
consist of [the number of judges, which shall be not less than
seven judges] 15 judges, to be selected as provided in section
14, and have such jurisdiction as shall be provided by this
Constitution or by the General Assembly. One of its judges shall
be the president judge.
(4) That section 4 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 4. Commonwealth Court.
The Commonwealth Court shall be a statewide court, and shall
consist of [the number of judges] nine judges, to be selected as
provided in section 14, and have such jurisdiction as shall be
provided by law. One of its judges shall be the president judge.
(5) That section 11 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 11. Judicial districts; boundaries.
[The number and boundaries of judicial districts shall be
changed by the General Assembly only with the advice and consent
of the Supreme Court.]
(a) The General Assembly shall, by law, establish:
(1) An Eastern, Middle and Western judicial district,
congruent with the Federal United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania, United States District Court
for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and United States
District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, except
that Lancaster County, Berks County, Lehigh County and
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Northampton County shall be part of the Middle judicial district
and Potter County, Tioga County, Cameron County, Clinton County,
Lycoming County, Centre County, Huntingdon County, Fulton County
and Franklin County shall be part of the Western judicial
district.
(a) The number of judges and justices of the Supreme Court,
the Superior Court and the Commonwealth Court elected from each
judicial district shall provide every resident of this
Commonwealth with approximately equal representation on a court.
Each judicial district shall be composed of compact and
contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as
practicable. Each judicial district shall elect one judge or
justice. Unless absolutely necessary, a county, city,
incorporated town, borough, township or ward may not be divided
in forming a judicial district.
(b) The General Assembly shall by law, establish:
(1) An Eastern, Middle and Western Judicial District.
Justices and judges shall be selected from the three judicial
districts as follows:
(i) Two justices of the Supreme Court shall be selected from
within each judicial district and shall be residents of the
judicial district. One justice shall be selected on a Statewide
basis and may be a resident of any of the judicial districts.
(ii) Five judges of the Superior Court shall be selected
from within each judicial district and shall be residents of the
judicial district.
(iii) Three judges of the Commonwealth Court shall be
selected from within each judicial district and shall be
residents of the judicial district.
(2) A transition to an appellate court judiciary selected
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from judicial districts.
(3) The effect of set judicial districts upon eligibility to
seek retention.
(4) The order in which justices of the Supreme Court and
judges of the Superior Court and the Commonwealth Court are
selected.
(5) Notwithstanding any of the provisions of subsection (a)
(2), (3) or (4), that all current members of the appellate court
shall serve out their current terms and be eligible to seek
retention on the schedule provided by law at the time of their
election to the appellate court prior to the adoption of this
subsection.
(b) (c) Residency qualification for appointment to the
Supreme Court, the Superior Court and the Commonwealth Court
shall be established by the General Assembly.
(c) (d) Except as provided under subsection (b) and this
section or section 7(b), the number and boundaries of all other
judicial districts shall be established by the General Assembly
by law, with the advice and consent of the Supreme Court.
(6) That section 13 of Article V be amended to read:
§ 13. [Election] Selection of justices, judges and [justices of
the peace] magisterial district judges; vacancies.
(a) [Justices, judges and justices of the peace] Judges,
other than judges of the Superior Court and Commonwealth Court,
and magisterial district judges shall be elected at the
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
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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) (1) A vacancy in the office of justice of the Supreme
Court, and judge of the Superior Court and Commonwealth Court,
shall be filled by appointment by the Governor. The appointment
shall be for the initial term of each 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, and the appointment shall be with
the advice and consent of two-thirds of the members elected to
the Senate. Within 30 days after receiving a list of
recommendations from the commission, the Governor shall nominate
to the Senate one individual from the list to fill the vacancy
for which the list was submitted. The Senate shall act on each
such nomination within 25 legislative days following the
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submission. 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
has not voted upon a nomination within 15 legislative days
following submission of the nomination by the Governor or within
15 legislative days after its return or reconvening, 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 25 legislative days following submission of
the nomination by the Governor or five legislative days
following the submission of the request by the members,
whichever occurs first. If the Senate fails to act upon a
nomination submitted under this paragraph, the nominee shall
take office as if the appointment had been consented to by the
Senate.
(2) If the Senate rejects the appointment of a nominee, the
Governor shall make a substitute nomination from the
commission's list within 30 days after the rejection from the
Senate. The Senate shall act upon the nomination in the manner
prescribed in paragraph (1). If the Senate rejects a total of
three nominations made for a specific vacancy, the commission
shall appoint any other individual on the list, 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.
(c) The provisions of section 13(b) shall not apply either
in the case of a vacancy to be filled by retention election as
provided in section 15(b), or in the case of a vacancy created
by failure of a [justice or] judge to file a declaration for
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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) 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.
(7) 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
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,
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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.]
(d) There shall be an independent board within the Executive
Department, known as the Appellate Court Nominating Commission,
the composition of which shall be as follows:
(1) The commission shall be composed of 13 members as
follows:
(i) Five individuals appointed by the Governor, four of whom
shall be members of the bar of the Supreme Court in good
standing and one of whom shall not be a member of the bar of the
Supreme Court or of any other jurisdiction. The members
appointed under this subparagraph shall reside in different
counties and no more than three members may be registered in the
same political party.
(ii) Two individuals appointed by the majority leader of the
Senate, one of whom shall be a member of the bar of the Supreme
Court in good standing and one of whom shall not be a member of
the bar of the Supreme Court or of any other jurisdiction. The
members appointed under this subparagraph shall reside in
different counties.
(iii) Two individuals appointed by the minority leader of
the Senate, one of whom shall be a member of the bar of the
Supreme Court in good standing and one of whom shall not be a
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member of the bar of the Supreme Court or of any other
jurisdiction. The members appointed under this subparagraph
shall reside in different counties.
(iv) Two individuals appointed by the majority leader of the
House of Representatives, one of whom shall be a member of the
bar of the Supreme Court in good standing and one of whom shall
not be a member of the bar of the Supreme Court or of any other
jurisdiction. The members appointed under this subparagraph
shall reside in different counties.
(v) Two individuals appointed by the minority leader of the
House of Representatives, one of whom shall be a member of the
bar of the Supreme Court in good standing and one of whom shall
not be a member of the bar of the Supreme Court or of any other
jurisdiction. The members appointed under this subparagraph
shall reside in different counties.
(2) Except for the initial appointees whose terms shall be
staggered as provided by law, the members shall serve for terms
of four years. Each member must be at least 18 years of age and
a resident of this Commonwealth for at least one year
immediately prior to the member's appointment and throughout the
member's term on the commission.
(3) No member of the commission, during the member's term,
may hold office in a political party or political organization,
hold an appointed or elected public office, whether compensated
or uncompensated, or be an employee of the Commonwealth. An
individual who has held any of the foregoing positions within
one year prior to the individual's appointment shall not be
eligible to serve on the commission. The provisions of this
paragraph shall not prohibit a member from serving as a part-
time solicitor to a political subdivision.
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(4) Membership on the commission shall terminate if a member
attains a position or characteristic that would have rendered
the member ineligible for appointment at the time of the
appointment. A vacancy shall be filled by the respective
appointing authority for the remainder of the term to which the
member was appointed. No member may serve for more than one full
term but may be reappointed after a lapse of four years. An
appointment of two years or less shall not be deemed a full
term. When making appointments, appointing authorities may
consider that the commission reflect the geographic, racial,
ethnic, gender and other diversity of this Commonwealth. The
General Assembly may provide for additional qualifications of
members of the commission, not inconsistent with this section,
as it deems appropriate in furthering the purposes of this
article.
(5) Members shall not be compensated for their services but
may be reimbursed for expenses necessarily incurred in the
discharge of their official duties.
(e) The Governor shall convene the first meeting of the
commission. At that meeting and annually thereafter, the members
of the commission shall elect a chairperson from among the
members. Except as provided in subsection (h), the commission
shall act only with the concurrence of a majority of its
members.
(f) The commission shall prescribe general rules governing
the conduct of members. A member may be removed by the
commission for a violation of the rules governing the conduct of
members.
(g) The commission may appoint staff as it deems necessary,
prepare and administer its own budget as provided by law,
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exercise supervisory and administrative authority over staff and
commission functions, establish and promulgate its own rules of
procedure, prepare and disseminate an annual report and take
other actions as are necessary to ensure its efficient
operation. The General Assembly may authorize staff of other
Commonwealth agencies to assist the commission in the
commission's work. The budget request of the commission shall be
submitted to the General Assembly by the Governor as a separate
item in the budget of the Executive Department.
(h) Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of justice of
the Supreme Court or judge of the Superior Court or Commonwealth
Court for a judicial district established under section 11 , the
commission shall publicly announce the vacancy and solicit
applications for individuals who desire to be considered for the
vacancy. The General Assembly shall prescribe the timing for
solicitation of applications and the process for evaluation of
candidates by the commission. From the applications received,
the commission shall agree, by the affirmative votes of at least
10 of the members, to a list of five of the most qualified
individuals whose names will be submitted to the Governor for
consideration for appointment. In comprising the list, the
commission may consider that the appellate courts reflect the
racial, ethnic, gender and other diversity of this Commonwealth.
Only one list shall be compiled for each vacancy. Each
individual whose name is submitted to the Governor shall:
(1) be a resident of this Commonwealth for at least one year
immediately prior to submission of the individual's application;
(2) meet residency requirements under section 11(b) 11(c) ,
subject to any other requirement established by law regarding
judicial districts;
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(3) be a licensed member of the bar of the Supreme Court in
good standing; and
(4) for an aggregate of at least 10 years prior to the
individual's selection, have either practiced law or been
engaged in a law-related occupation.
(i) The General Assembly may provide for additional
procedures of the commission relating to the nomination of
candidates for judicial offices and for additional
qualifications of candidates, in both cases not inconsistent
with this section, as it deems appropriate in furthering the
purposes of this article.
(j) Members of the commission and its staff shall be
absolutely immune from suit for all conduct in the course of
their official duties.
(8) 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 years and the
regular term of office for judges of the municipal court and
traffic 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 judicial districts or by reduction in the number of judges.
(b) A justice or judge elected or appointed under section
[13(a), appointed under section 13(d)] 13 or retained under this
section 15(b) 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]
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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 or election under section 13 .
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] 13. 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 article.
Section 2. These proposed constitutional amendments will
become effective on January 1 next following approval by the
qualified electors of this Commonwealth under section 1 of
Article XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.
Section 3. (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
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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 of this resolution to the qualified electors of
this Commonwealth as a single ballot question at the first
general 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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