This morning, Pittsburgh's lone daily newspaper reveals its endorsement for Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Aaaand the winner is: Joan Orie Melvin. Says the P-G:
After attending the University of Notre Dame and receiving her law degree from Duquesne University, she practiced law for five years before being appointed a city magistrate in 1985. After becoming chief magistrate two years later, she founded a domestic violence court, the first such in Pennsylvania. Her record of innovation and service led her to be appointed to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court and she was elected to a full term a year later.
In 1997, she won election to Superior Court and was retained by the voters two years ago. In the state bar's judgment, her written opinions "are cogent and well-reasoned" and she is "recognized as genial and fair-minded, and she has demonstrated sound judicial temperament. She is respected by her colleagues on the Superior Court, the lawyers who have appeared before her and those who have worked with her in the community."
Sounds great! But, well, it also sounds a bit incomplete.
And it is!
First, from Melvin's online bio:
Judge Orie Melvin has been a lifelong Republican. Her faith is the cornerstone of her life. She comes from a family of nine children raised with the principles of God and Country. She and her husband Greg have been married for 25 years and have been blessed with six wonderful children. Her sister is Senator Jane Orie, the present Pennsylvania Senate Majority Whip- the highest ranking female leader in the state.
Her judicial philosophy is firmly based on judicial restraint. She is a strict constructionist and believes the job of judging is interpreting the law and not creating it. Her extensive judicial opinions are evidence of her conservative judicial philosophy.
Translation: Melvin's a rightwing judicial activist.
In her previous visit to Wilkes-Barre in May she gave a long rambling speech to the local GOP faithful. In that speech she listed as one of her selling points was the upcoming redistricting after the 2010 Census telling the partisan crowd that they needed a Republican on the court to rule in favor of Republicans in any challenges to whatever plan emerges.
As Pennsylvania is sure to lose Congressional seats after next year, this is of no small importance.
(It's outside the scope of this post but the very act of choosing high-end judges by popular election is rock-stupid.)
Why on earth would the P-G endorse this person over a standard-issue Democrat (who the P-G describes as "exceptional")? They say straight-out that it's because she's a she - ignoring the fact that as a Christianist Melvin is unlikely to be a friend to Pennsylvania women. But the other reason takes the biscuit:
All things otherwise being equal, we tend to favor a candidate from the west over one from the east[.]
Putting aside the fact that "things" aren't equal, it comes down to pure parochialism.
I get the impression that the P-G found its candidate then arranged to facts to justify their decision.
But if Melvin wins at least we'll have a good ol' fashioned Red-hunter on our state's highest court: