State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Senate Democratic leader treads lightly on court appointment

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Mar 26, 2013 10:53 PM
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Gov. Corbett has said he'll nominate someone to fill the seat of a state Supreme Court justice who plans to step down in May. Senate Democratic support will be crucial for confirmation, but the caucus is still playing its hand close to the vest.

It's hard to overstate what a gift this is to Democrats: the governor needs a two-thirds vote in the Senate, or at least seven Democratic votes, to finalize any pick her makes to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. And it's all happening as lawmakers enter the budgeting season.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said Tuesday his caucus isn't looking to leverage the Supreme Court appointment in order to secure other legislative priorities.

Nor was Costa quite ready to get into any public negotiations over who his caucus would like to be considered.

"Well, certainly we're willing to, and would like, and would hope that we'd have the opportunity to sit down with the administration and determine who the most appropriate candidate for that position might be," said Costa.

For now, he's sharing a small, general wish list - expressing his desire for the governor's pick to be "someone who would be viewed as, I guess I would say, maybe a more moderate type of candidate - someone with judicial experience, I think."

Other members of the caucus haven't been as circumspect, framing the "moderate type of candidate" wish as more of a demand.

But Costa said his members aren't looking to drag out the confirmation process.

"We have no design or desire to stall," he said.

He says his caucus hasn't created a short list of desired candidates yet, but he is meeting with the governor's chief of staff this week.


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