Campaigns & Elections

Opinion: Partisanship has no place in Pennsylvania’s courts

Pennsylvania Superior Court candidate Jill Beck writes that the state deserves jurists who will put adherence to the law over partisanship.

Pennsylvania Superior Court candidate Jill Beck

Pennsylvania Superior Court candidate Jill Beck Jill Beck for Superior Court

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of op-eds from Pennsylvania judicial candidates. To submit an op-ed for consideration, contact

Winning a statewide race in Pennsylvania is no easy task. Winning a statewide race in a municipal election year is even harder. With 67 counties, 309 miles from border to border, 29 million acres of land and approximately 8.6 million voters, there is – metaphorically and literally – a lot of ground to cover when running statewide. 

When I decided to run for Superior Court, I knew this meant incredible amounts of time away from my family and young children. But I am committed to running this race like I will run my courtroom: giving every voice an equal chance to be heard. That’s why I visited all 67 counties pre-primary – if I am going to ask for support, I believe I owe it to voters to do so in person whenever possible. 

Judicial elections are won by a majority of votes, and although some counties are more populous than others, there are votes in every county. In five months, my team and I crisscrossed the state together to campaign in every single county because we believe that every county counts. 

I am very proud of my team’s accomplishments in the primary, including setting a state record for votes won in a contested judicial primary and winning 82% of the counties in our commonwealth. But more than that, I am proud of the coalition of voters we put together that represented both urban and rural parts of the commonwealth. 

I am from Allegheny County and am raising my family in Pittsburgh, but I know that there is much more to Pennsylvania than just Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. The Superior Court reviews trial court decisions from across the commonwealth, and these decisions impact every Pennsylvanian. It doesn’t matter if you are a big corporation or a small family farmer; rich or with limited means; a Republican, Democrat, Independent or anything in between – we all want a judiciary that follows the rule of law and ensures justice is served.

In a closed primary, with only Democrats able to vote for me, I ran on three simple messages: every county counts, experience matters and partisan politics have no place in judicial decisions. While this last point may not be the most politically savvy message to deliver in a closed primary, I firmly believe that judges should be completely impartial and committed to interpreting and applying our laws and our constitutions as written.

We don’t want “Democratic Judges” or “Republican Judges” – Pennsylvania deserves jurists on the Superior Court who have the experience, temperament and ability to put adherence to the law above self-interest or partisan influences. 

That is exactly what you will get when you cast a vote for me. I have largely dedicated my career to public service, have practiced in every area of law the Superior Court hears and am the only candidate running who has extensive appellate experience on both sides of the bench. Based upon my experience, legal writing and temperament, the Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission rated me “Highly Recommended” to be a Superior Court judge. 

I care deeply about the Superior Court and the integrity of its decisions. I view this election as a year-long, 8 million-plus person, far-too-expensive job interview, and I am working hard on the campaign trail. A person of my word, I promise I will work even harder if elected. 

Judicial elections should not be “politics-as-usual” elections. Our courts (and jurists) must rise above partisan politics to provide fair, just, evenhanded decisions to the parties that come before them — no matter who they are, what they look like, how they pray, who they love, where they’re from, if they have a disability, their political affiliation or how much money they make. If I earn the support needed to be elected to the Superior Court, I will make it my mission to ensure that Pennsylvania is a place where justice truly is for all. 

Jill Beck is a Pittsburgh-based attorney who is running for Pennsylvania Superior Court. Jill and her husband, Patrick, live in Pittsburgh with their two young children and rescue dog, Ripothy.