We are just 84 days away from the 2023 general election. And the biggest statewide prize is the open seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Democrat Dan McCaffery and Republican Carolyn Carluccio will vie for the spot, vacated by the passing of former Chief Justice Max Baer.
The winner of the contest will not change the majority makeup of the seven-member court, as Democrats currently hold four of the six seats.
McCaffery currently sits on the Pennsylvania Superior Court and served on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas from 2013-19.
A U.S. Army veteran, he received a B.A. from Temple University and a J.D. from Temple University School of Law. His previous work experience included working as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia and the law firm of Freidman, Schuman, P.C.
“Democratic Institutions including the judiciary are under duress,” he wrote on his Pennsylvania Bar Association Personal Data Questionnaire about his reasons for running. “These attacks have undermined the confidence of the American public in our courts. If elected, my priority will be to approach every case in a non-partisan manner. I will use my best efforts to restore faith in the judicial branch of government.
“The law is the vehicle that drives society toward a more level playing field. I have always worked to make our society more fair, inclusive, and accepting. Pennsylvanians deserve a justice who will always protect, obey, and defend the constitution. I believe I am that person.”
Carluccio is the first female president judge of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. She started her career as a Federal Assistant United States Attorney and also served as the first-ever female Chief Public Defender for Montgomery County. Carluccio earned a B.A. from Dickinson College and a J.D. from Widener University.
“Pennsylvanians want impartial and experienced judges to apply the law as written and not legislate from the bench,” she wrote on her campaign website.
She told the Lock Haven Express that she wants to bring common sense to the court and remove politics.
“I think politics should have nothing to do with the judge,” she said. “Although we need to be political to get there, what we do when we put on that black robe … politics are gone.”
The next scheduled state supreme court elections in Pennsylvania will take place in 2025 when three Democratic justices first elected in 2015 – Kevin M. Dougherty (D), David Wecht (D) and Christine Donohue (D) – will be up for retention. If any of the three justices are not retained, Gov. Josh Shapiro will appoint an interim successor who must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Pennsylvania Senate. The interim justice will serve until a special election to fill the seat takes place concurrently with the next general election occurring more than 10 months after the vacancy occurred.