(WHTM) – Most Pennsylvanians probably can’t tell you what the Commonwealth Court does, but whether you know it or not, it’s the court that affects our daily lives more directly than any other.
And next Tuesday, Pennsylvania will select the next judge to sit on that court.
Megan Martin (R) said, “It’s a very special court. There’s no other court in the country like it.”
Pennsylvania’s commonwealth court is unique to Pennsylvania. It hears cases involving state and local governments and recently decided public school funding is unconstitutionally inequitable and that the state’s entry into a greenhouse gas initiative is also unconstitutional.
Martin said, “I have one-of-a-kind experience for our one-of-a-kind Commonwealth Court.”
Republican Megan Martin, from Cumberland County, clerked for a Lancaster County Judge, was an attorney in the Tom Ridge and Tom Corbett administrations, a civilian lawyer for the Navy, and is the only woman to serve as secretary parliamentarian in the Pennsylvania Senate. Experience in all three branches of government that she calls a plus.
“It’s not the judges,” said Martin. “I think knowing the legislative process most certainly will give me incredible insight that I can bring to the Commonwealth Court. There are very few people who understand what I understand about our State government.”
Matt Wolf (D) said, “I would like to be on the court so that I can stand up for people’s civil rights.”
Philadelphia Democrat Matt Wolf was a private practice civil rights attorney. He served two tours with the army in Iraq and Afghanistan earning a bronze star and spent the last six years as a judge in Philly. He’s on the ballot for that seat on Commonwealth Court Tuesday. He says if the race is about qualifications. He wins.
Wolf said, “After 25 years of litigation experience. I’m a trial attorney. I’m a judge, and my opponent is neither a trial attorney nor does she have judicial experience.”
Though unlikely anytime soon, if an abortion case were brought, the commonwealth court is likely the first stop. Both say they’d follow the law. But added this…
“I think that reproductive freedom is one of the civil rights that’s important under the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution,” said Wolf
“I’m going to apply the law as our General Assembly wrote it, not going to legislate from the bench. I know my lane and I’m going to stay in my lane,” said Martin.
Both have the same recommended rating by the Pennsylvania bar.
Their closing arguments?
Wolf said, “Judges have tremendous influence over whether the government can take advantage of people, both in terms of criminal law, how far are the police allowed to go, and in terms of the state of Pennsylvania creeping into people’s homes and taking away rights? My job as a judge on the Commonwealth Court is to keep the government in check.”
Martin said, “I’m going to be a judge who’s not afraid to hold our government accountable because just as you and I and all the good people of this great Commonwealth have to follow the law, so too does our government.”
There are currently eight judges on the Commonwealth Court; Five Republicans, three Democrats, seven women, and one man.
Election day is Tuesday.
Just a reminder, your county election office needs to have your completed ballots by Tuesday at 8 p.m. for them to count.