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State of Pennsylvania

Judicial Campaigns and Elections: Pennsylvania

Campaign Financing

There are no limits on campaign contributions from individuals and PACs. However, contributions from corporations, labor unions, and regulated industries are prohibited.

In 2007, four candidates for two open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court spent $7.85 million, shattering previous records for judicial elections in the state. Records were broken again in 2009 when two candidates for a single seat spent nearly $4.7 million--the most expensive supreme court race ever in Pennsylvania.

A 2010 study by the American Judicature Society indicated that campaign contributors appear often before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and that it is fairly common for contributors to have donated to the campaigns of a majority of the justices. According to an analysis of the 82 civil cases decided by the court in 2008 and 2009:

  • In 49 of the 82 cases (60 percent), at least one of the litigants, attorneys, or firms involved had contributed to the election campaign of at least one justice.
  • In 21 cases (26 percent), a contribution had been made by more than one of the parties in the case.
  • In 26 of the 82 cases (32 percent), a single litigant, attorney, or firm in the case had contributed to at least four of the six justices who ran in contested elections.
  • In 11 cases a single party had donated to the campaigns of four justices; in 14 cases a single party had made contributions to five justices; and in 3 cases, a single party had given campaign money to all six jus­tices who won their seats.

See below for National Institute on Money in State Politics data on contributions to state high court candidates.

Amounts raised by each candidate at the most recent election cycle:

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