PA Supreme Court Candidate Daniel McCaffery Says He’ll Protect Abortion Rights

Candidate for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge Daniel McCaffery speaks at a women's organizing event and canvass launch hosted by the Montgomery County Democratic Committee in Norristown, Pa. Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Ryan Collerd)

By Sean Kitchen

October 18, 2023

“In Pennsylvania, we elect judges, and people have a right to know where you stand on those issues,” McCaffery told reporters. “Because, and I mean this, I would much rather lose an election on the merits than win an election by being deceitful.”  

Preserving access to reproductive healthcare is one of the defining topics of the upcoming Pennsylvania Supreme Court election, and with less than a month to go until Election Day, there is a stark difference in how the two candidates are approaching the topic. 

Democrats hold a 4-2 majority on the court and are looking to recapture the seat that was left vacant following the death of Chief Justice Max Baer in Sept. 2022. 

Holding a 5-2 majority on the court will make it easier to preserve reproductive freedom when three justices have a retention vote in 2025, and when one of the liberal judges reaches the constitution’s mandatory retirement age in 2027. 

Judge Daniel McCaffery, who is the Democratic nominee in the race this year and currently sits on the Pennsylvania Superior Court, told the American Independent that abortion is the defining issue in the race. 

“In Pennsylvania, we elect judges, and people have a right to know where you stand on those issues,” McCaffery said in the interview. “Because, and I mean this, I would much rather lose an election on the merits than win an election by being deceitful.”  

Then, in the Philadelphia Inquirer, McCaffery went on to compare his Republican opponent, Montgomery County Judge Carolyn Carluccio, to the three justices former president Donald Trump nominated for the US Supreme Court because she won’t share her opinion on abortion publicly.

“Where have we heard that before?” McCaffery said, talking about the vague statements made by justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett during their confirmation hearings when asked about Roe. All three judges later voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

Preserving reproductive rights and abortion access became an issue following the primary when Carluccio’s campaign removed from her website a resume stating that she would be a defender of all life under law. During the primary, she also sought the endorsement of the PA Pro-Life Federation, which wants to completely ban abortion with no exceptions. 

Planned Parenthood Votes, the national political arm of Planned Parenthood, picked up on The Keystone’s reporting about Carluccio removing the language from her website and turned it into a seven figure ad campaign in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh markets.

Carluccio responded to the ads by calling Planned Parenthood a special interest group.

“What’s happening here is special interest groups have taken hold of this race, frankly, and they have an outcome that they want,” Carluccio told the Inquirer. “I would hope that we do not have a justice on our Supreme Court that’s beholden to these special interest groups.”

She did not address the fact that most of her campaign’s own financial support comes from a political action committee funded by  Pennsylvania’s richest billionaire, Jeffrey Yass. Spotlight PA reported that Carluccio raised $3.4 million since the beginning of the year, with $2.1 million coming from the Commonwealth Leaders Fund, which is funded through Yass’ Students First PAC.  

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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