What is Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court?

The Honorable Lori A. Dumas is running for Commonwealth Court in 2021!

So what does that mean? The Commonwealth Court is an important piece of the Pennsylvania judicial system with a long history, so the judges on this court must remain impartial to maintain a legacy of justice for all Pennsylvanians.

The Commonwealth Court was established in 1968 as one of the two Pennsylvania intermediate appellate courts. Unique to Pennsylvania, this court hears appeals from the Courts of Common Pleas, mostly relating to state and local governments and regulatory bodies. The Commonwealth Court may also hear original cases brought by or against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

While the Superior Court has 15 judges, the Commonwealth Court has only nine. Like the Superior Court, cases are typically overseen by panels of three judges in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh, but may also be heard by a single judge or en banc by a panel of seven.

Commonwealth Court Judges are Elected

Commonwealth Court judges are elected in a partisan election, after which they remove their partisan ties in order to serve fairly and equitably.

Once elected, the judge serves a term of 10 years. At the end of her 10 years (and every 10 years after that), the judge is subject to a retention election, whereby the voters can determine if they want that judge removed from her seat in a simple “yes or no” format. Judges must retire at the age of 75.

This retention process allows Pennsylvania residents to make their voice heard while minimizing the need for expensive elections or - even worse - the impossibility of impartial judgments when facing a full re-election campaign.

Current Court Status

Judge Lori A. Dumas Campaign team is proud to see six women serving on our current Commonwealth Court and applaud our electorate’s dedication to gender equality.

However it saddens us to see zero minorities, an overwhelming seven republicans, and only one judge from Southeastern Philadelphia, meaning there’s a huge number of severely underrepresented Pennsylvanians.

Judge Lori A. Dumas brings a unique and varied perspective to the court, adding an African-American, female, and Southeastern voice that creates a more fair and balanced Commonwealth Court for Pennsylvania!

Learn more about the Commonwealth Court here or support Lori’s campaign here.