It’s Time to Bring Balance and Fairness to PA’s Supreme Court
Past 5 years of Court decisions have negatively impacted jobs, healthcare access
This year, Pennsylvanians have the chance to begin charting a better course for our Supreme Court. A lengthy review of Pennsylvania Supreme Court cases handed down since the beginning of 2016 reveals numerous decisions by the court that expand exposure to liability. To Pennsylvania residents, expanded liability means fewer jobs, less healthcare for you and your family, and more lawsuits that drain our economy and place additional expenses on taxpayers. That is why this year’s race for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is critically important. The outcome of this race will either set the stage to restore balance to our Supreme Court or will result in a continuation of expanded liability at an alarming rate. Jobs will be created, or jobs will be lost, perhaps yours, if the court proceeds on this trajectory! Critical health care services will be widely unavailable or sued out of existence. Each voter should understand these issues to cast an informed vote this November.
Pennsylvanians realize that laws passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by our Governor impact all of us. However, few may realize how impactful the decisions of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court are to our daily lives. When the court misinterprets a law, and especially when it disregards the plain language of a statute in favor of a preconceived notion of what the law should be, the results can be devastating. A review of Supreme Court civil cases over the past five years by the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform revealed that the court has expanded liability at an alarming pace. In fact, the ratio of civil cases exposing litigants to expanded liability and higher monetary damages was more than double the decisions upholding important laws, statutes or protections for those victimized by lawsuits.
When liability is expanded, more money goes into the pockets of personal injury attorneys and less money goes into job creation, investments in our communities and growing our economy. Businesses need a reliable understanding of the laws and their obligations under them. When liability is suddenly expanded by a court decision, those job creators no longer are able to predict the impact of the law on their operations. Hence, more money is spent on lawsuits instead of reinvesting in businesses on main street and into creating new jobs. When court decisions result in fewer employment opportunities, you and your family’s ability to work to your maximum potential is undermined. In the end, you and your family suffer, and Pennsylvania’s economy stagnates.
Your healthcare is also threatened when liability is expanded. When physicians, hospitals, and nursing homes are subjected to endless lawsuits, patients suffer. Frivolous and unnecessary lawsuits send medical liability costs skyrocketing thereby reducing critical healthcare services. Physicians may opt for retirement or move their practice to another state. Your access to healthcare becomes scarce as medical providers are forced to practice defensive medicine to avoid being sued. Defensive medicine results in the ordering and performing of multiple tests which pushes up the price of health care, making already expensive services even more unaffordable for everyone.
To help voters determine which candidates support an impartial judicial system that does not forget its decisions impact real people, the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform has created a Judicial Election Guide. We asked candidates for Supreme Court, Superior Court and Commonwealth Court to tell us their views on the role of a judge, where their support is coming from, and other questions important to you, the voter. Judge Kevin Brobson is the only one of the two candidates for Supreme Court who responded to our candidate questionnaire. His responses demonstrate that he understands and appreciates the need for balance in our courts to allow our healthcare, job creation and your families to flourish.
Your opportunity to begin changing the direction of the Supreme Court and to elect reasonable judges to the Superior and Commonwealth Courts happens on November 2nd. Be sure to educate yourself on the candidates and cast an informed vote.
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The Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform is a 501(c )(6), not-for-profit, nonpartisan advocacy organization comprised of a diverse group of organizations and individuals committed to bringing fairness to Pennsylvania’s courts by raising awareness of civil justice issues and advocating for legal reform. Additional information is available at http://www.paforciviljusticereform.org, https://www.facebook.com/paciviljustice/ or https://twitter.com/paciviljustice.