Bill to appoint Pennsylvania’s appellate judges takes step

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A bill to authorize a statewide referendum on whether Pennsylvania’s appellate judges should be appointed by the governor has cleared its first vote in the state Legislature.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 16-11 on Tuesday to start the process of amending the state constitution to end the practice of electing judges to the Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth courts.

Under the bill, a committee appointed by the governor and legislative leaders would recommend candidates to fill court vacancies. The governor would nominate one and the appointment would be subject to Senate approval.

The bill would require approval in two successive legislatures before it could be sent out to Pennsylvania voters for ratification. A spokesman for the House Republican majority couldn’t say whether it has enough support to pass the entire chamber.

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