Look no further than in battleground Pennsylvania, where Democrats in 2015 seized on turmoil created by three resignations from the state’s highest court and spent millions of dollars to win those seats for liberal judges. The Democratic Party, state and national labor unions, and billboard trial lawyers all chipped in, knowing the stakes – and the opportunities – were high.
The Republican State Leadership Committee led the fight to stop them in an election that would ultimately become the most expensive state judicial election at the time – a record $16.5 million was poured in by outside groups. Democrats recognized how useful a partisan, activist majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would be for their policy agenda and political preferences for years to come.
The outcomes didn’t take long to pay off: This year, that same Democrat majority on the court used the Pennsylvania Constitution’s “Free and Equal Elections Clause” to ignore state law requiring absentee ballots be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day. The court adopted a politics-first interpretation of the law, allowing it to rewrite deadlines that it found inconvenient.