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Activists say 'vote no' on Castille retention - abc27 WHTM

Activists say 'vote no' on Castille retention

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Ron Castille is the chief justice of Pennsylvania's Supreme Court. He will face voters in November in a retention election, which are typically a slam-dunk for judges. Voters will simply vote 'yes' or 'no' on whether to retain Castille for another 10-year term.

Only once has a sitting Supreme Court judge not been retained.

Activists who gathered at the Capitol on Monday would like to make Castille number two.

"We're not alleging anything criminal," said Tim Potts of Democracy Rising PA. "Only failures of ethics, leadership and competence."

They even have a catch slogan for the Castille retention election: "Put the 'no' in November."

The group is critical of Castille's rulings and his leadership of Pennsylvania's courts.

They specifically take issue with his support of what they call an unconstitutional law that brought gaming to Pennsylvania. They also criticized his rulings in support of the pay raise and redistricting.

And they point to numerous judicial scandals on Castille's watch, including the kids-for-cash case in Luzerne County and corruption in the Philadelphia traffic court.

"We're talking about a series of things that question his judgement, his temperament, his ethics, and his leadership," said Potts. "It's all of the above."

Castille is 69 years old. The mandatory retirement age for judges is currently 70, though it's being challenged as age discrimination in both state and federal courts.

Why run for a ten-year term when you can only serve one year? I asked Castille that very question in a sit-down interview a few months ago.

"I think it's important that I stay," Castille said. "Not me personally, but because of the experience I have."

To no one's surprise, Potts disagrees. "I don't think it's a good idea for people to run for a term of office they cannot possibly fulfill. I look at elections as a contract with voters to serve the full term."

Potts sent his concerns to law schools and media outlets and asked for a forum to debate Castille publicly prior to the November retention election. A spokesman for the state courts said it would have no comment on the challenge or criticism of Castille's performance.

Does Potts think Castille will engage in a debate? 

"I have no idea, but I hope he sees some value in trying to educate the public and having a discussion with someone like me, who's not a lawyer, who wants to help people get a handle on judicial issues," he said.

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