Petition in Opposition to Judicial Districts

We are calling on the General Assembly to dismiss the current effort to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to change the way we elect appellate court judges and justices in the Commonwealth.


January 15, 2021

Members of the General Assembly,

We, the undersigned, would like to express our vehement opposition to the current effort to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to change the way we elect appellate court judges and justices in the Commonwealth.

The negative implications of this legislation are of great concern.

First, this effort is the largest attempt to disenfranchise Pennsylvanians in the history of our commonwealth.

Second, this is a massive threat to the independence of our Judiciary.

Currently, Pennsylvanians have the right to elect and hold accountable all thirty-one appellate court judges and justices (seven Supreme Court, fifteen Superior Court, nine Commonwealth Court). This amendment eviscerates that right by muting their voice but for only three of the thirty-one appellate courts judges and justices (one Supreme Court, one Superior Court, one Commonwealth Court.) As a result, millions of Pennsylvanians are disenfranchised. No longer will our voices be heard by all judges running for an office possessing statewide jurisdiction. No longer will voters be able to hold appellate court judges accountable for their actions and decisions through retention elections.

Additionally, our judiciary is a co-equal branch of government whose independence is a core tenet of our democracy. That independence is enshrined in both the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions.

Electing appellate judges from districts gerrymandered by the General Assembly will make those judges increasingly beholden to partisan politics instead of the United States Constitution, Pennsylvania Constitution, and the laws of the Commonwealth. Judges are not legislators whose job it is to represent a specific community and should not be encouraged to care more or less about a case based on the region from which it arises. Judges should be free of influence from local biases and prejudices — their fidelity is to the law of the entire Commonwealth, and they should not be encouraged to consider how a specific regional judicial district would respond to a certain ruling.

Our diverse and growing opposition, representing over a million members, requests in the strongest terms that this constitutional amendment does not get consideration in either chamber. Defeating this is one of our highest priorities for the 2021-22 legislative session.


Darrin Kelly, Allegheny-Fayette Labor Council, President
Kenneth J. Broadbent, Steamfitters Local 449, Business Manager
Dennis L. Martire, LIUNA, VP and Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager
Bobby “Mac” McAuliffe, United Steelworkers, District Director
Deborah Gross, Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, President and CEO
Joe Gusler, Central PA Building & Construction Trades Council
Ralph Sicuro, Pittsburgh Firemen Local 1, President
Rich Askey, PSEA, President
JT Pennington, PA Professional Firefighters, President
James T. Kunz Jr., IUOE 66, Business Manager
Richard Bloomingdale, PA AFL-CIO, President
Patrick Eiding, Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, President
Paul Lagnese, Pennsylvania Association for Justice, President
Dave Henderson, AFSCME Council 13, Executive Director
Wendell Young IV, UFCW Local 1776, President
Ali Kronley, United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania, Director
Samuel Jones, Restaurant Opportunities Center of Pennsylvania (ROC), Director
Michael D. Welsh, IBEW, 3rd District Vice President
William Sproule, Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, Executive Secretary-Treasurer
Barbara Nectow, Esq., Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, Co-Executive Director
Chris Woods, District 1199C, President National Union of Hospital & Health Care Employees, District 1199C, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
Bonnie Chang, Bucks Voices, Chair
Antoinette Kraus, Pennsylvania Health Access Network, Executive Director
Susan Frietsche, Women’s Law Project, Senior Staff Attorney
Barbara Harteis, UUFP, Program Committee
Joseph Ashdale, Int’l Union of Painters & Allied Trades District Council #21, Business Manager
Ashley McBride, For Our Future Action Fund, State Director
Nancy Kleinberg, Indivisible: Narberth and Beyond, Founder
Sue Caskey, Progressive Montco, Chair
Alisha Hoffman-Mirilovich, Action Together NEPA, President
Matthew Yarnell, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, President
David Melman, Pennsylvania Joint Board of Workers United SEIU, Manager
Jerry T. Jordan, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, President
Arthur G. Steinberg, AFT Pennsylvania, President
Steve Catanese, SEIU Local 668, President
Gabe Morgan, 32BJ SEIU, Vice President
Gabe Morgan, SEIU PA State Council, President
Nirav Sanghani, America Votes PA
Khalif Ali, Common Cause Pennsylvania, Executive Director
Marc Stier, PA Budget and Policy Center, Director
Ken Regal, Just Harvest, Executive Director
Steven Hvozdovich, Clean Water Action, Pennsylvania Campaigns Director
Kenn Bradley, IBEW Local 29, Business Manager
Michael McDermott, IBEW Local Union #81, Business Manager
Richard I. Muttik, IBEW, Business Manager/Financial Secretary
Thomas R. Henchey, IBEW Local 229, Business Manager
Paul Anthony, IBEW Local Union 375, Business Manager
Patty Johnson, IBEW Local 201, Treasurer
James C. Nuber, Jr., IBEW L.U. 56, Business Manager
Mark A Schrack, IBEW 1096, President/Business Manager Anthony G. Gratti Jr., IBEW Local Union 607, Business Manager
John H. Olejnik, IBEW Local Union 163, Business Manager/Financial Secretary
Louis Agrel, Philadelphia Metal Trades Council, President
David Thornburgh, Committee of Seventy, CEO and President
Bryan Mercer, Movement Alliance Project, Executive Director
James Beamer, IBEW Local Union 812, Business Manager
George Pegram, Plumbers Union Local 690, Business Manager
Jim DePoe, IBEW Local Union 29, Political Director
Jamila Medley, Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, Executive Director
Barry Hixson, IBEW Local 459, President/Assistant Business Manager
Daulph A. Kline, IBEW Local 777, Business Manager/Financial Secretary
Robert S. Bair, IBEW Local 143, Business Manager
Edward J Braukus, IBEW Local 743, Business Manager
Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter, PA Campaign Director
Kendra Cochran, POWER interfaith, Director of Civic Engagement
Josh McNeil, Conservation Voters of PA, Executive Director
Tsehaitu Abye, One Fair Wage, Pennsylvania Political Organizer
Erin Kramer, One Pennsylvania, Executive Director
Hannah Laurison, PA Stands Up, Executive Director
Jennifer Rafanan Kennedy, Pittsburgh United/PA United, Executive Director
Thais Carrero, CASA, Pennsylvania Director
Brittany S. Smalls, Black Voters Matter Fund, Pennsylvania State Coordinator
Ellen A Stevenson, Social Justice Indivisible, Leader / Chair
Nancy Nguyen and Mohan Seshadri, Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance, Co-Executive Directors
Gloria Gilman, Philly Neighborhood Networks, Chair
Reggie Shuford, ACLU of Pennsylvania, Executive Director
Veronica Coptis, Center for Coalfield Justice, Executive Director
Andrea Custis, Urban League of Philadelphia, President and CEO
Tonya Bah, Free the Ballot, Strategist
Ryan Whyte, 1Hood Power, Civic Engagement Coordinator
Rosslyn Wuchinich, UNITE HERE Local 274, President
Neil Makhija, IMPACT, Executive Director
Nancy Nguyen, VietLead, Executive Director
Kris Henderson, Esq., Amistad Law Project, Executive Director
Caitlin Fritz, 215 People’s Alliance, Managing Director
Erika Nunez, Juntos, Director
A’Brianna Morgan, Reclaim Philadelphia, Lead Mass Liberation Organizer
Thoai Nguyen, SEAMAAC, CEO
Jan Jarrett, Better Pennsylvania, Executive Director
Marlene Kanuck, Hershey Indivisible Team, Chair
Philip B Friedman, Conner Riley Friedman & Weichler, Partner
Jada Richardson, York NAACP, Chairperson, Political Action Committee
Victoria J Miller, Indivisible Philadelphia, Leader
Adam Garber, CeaseFirePA, Executive Director
Maegan LLerena, Make the Road PA, Executive Director
Jordi Comas, The HUB for Progress, Facilitator
Nicole Keels-McGruder, Community Hero Impact Alliance, Executive Director
Eric Rosso, PA Spotlight, Executive Director
Jennifer Hanf, Reading Branch NAACP, Director of Communications
Nicole Keels-McGruder, Community Hero Action Group, Executive Director
Brandi S Fisher, Alliance for Police Accountability(APA), President/CEO
Ellen A Stevenson, Social Justice Indivisible, Leader
Rabbi Michael Pollack, MarchOnHarrisburg, Executive Director
Gloria M Gilman, Philly Neighborhood Networks, Chair
Beth Mikus, Southwestern PA CLUW, President
Steve Masters, Indivisible Northwest Philly, Steering Committee Member
Alix Webb, Asian Americans United, Executive Director