The absurd but dangerous legal crusade by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election was mostly laughed out of court. But a rare judge who sided with the GOP quest is now eyeing a more powerful perch in a race that has flown somewhat under the radar.
Pennsylvania appeals court Judge Patricia McCullough voted to halt the state’s certification of the 2020 election for the winner, President Joe Biden. Her move was overturned by the state’s Supreme Court — and now McCullough wants to sit on that same court that rejected her. She’s on the ballot in Tuesday’s Republican primary.
Voting rights lawyer and frequent “Deadline: White House” guest Marc Elias tweeted Thursday that the upcoming Pennsylvania election ”hasn’t gotten the same attention as the Wisconsin Supreme Court election, but this one is arguably even more important.”
Bolts Magazine pointed to additional election matters in which the state top court went against McCullough, “including overturning a ruling she joined last year against the state’s expanded mail-in voting rules, and rejecting her advice that the state adopt a Republican-drawn redistricting proposal.” The death of Democratic Chief Justice Max Baer last year left a vacancy to be filled in the November general election for the swing state’s top court, which could be asked to weigh in on the 2024 election, too.
One reason the Pennsylvania election hasn’t drawn as much attention as the Wisconsin Supreme Court race that Elias referenced could be that, in Wisconsin, the court’s ideological balance was at stake (the liberal won last month over the conservative, giving liberals a majority on the crucial court). Pennsylvania’s top court has a 4-2 Democratic majority, so a Republican win in the general wouldn’t shift the political balance, but it would narrow the gap.
At any rate, the mere prospect of such an outlier Trump-aligned judge on a state top court would be notable in its own right.
In addition to her rulings, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board, while endorsing McCullough’s Republican primary opponent Carolyn Carluccio, noted that McCullough “recently spoke at a political rally hosted by state Sen. Doug Mastriano, the far-right election denier and supporter of Donald Trump who also marched with the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrectionists.” The board argued: “Anyone still riding the Trump train is not qualified to hold public office.”
We’ll find out if Pennsylvania voters agree.