Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has finally resigned in advance of her sentencing in early May. She and two sisters were convicted in the past year of using their state offices, resources and staffs to run Orie Melvin’s two Supreme Court campaigns. Former State Senator Jane Orie is already in prison. Janine Orie was convicted with Orie Melvin in February. The House Judiciary Committee was already advancing impeachment proceedings when the resignation was announced this week.
This leaves the Supreme Court divided 3-3 on partisan lines so any deadlocks will uphold whatever Superior and Commonwealth Court cases wind up in tie votes. Gov. Corbett must now appoint someone to resume the eight years of the ten year term now vacated by Justice Orie Melvin. The State Senate must approve that nominee by two thirds vote meaning the 27-23 GOP majority must gain bipartisan support to approve the Governor’s choice. This means that person must be a moderate, at least.
Superior Court Judge Jack Panella of Bethlehem ran against Orie Melvin but was handicapped by her illegal use of state employees on her campaign. He should be the obvious choice since he was the only candidate for the seat who ran a clean, legal campaign.