No. 83 E.D. Misc. Docket 1982, Petition for Extraordinary Relief.
Robert E. J. Curran, Media, John C. Snyder, Paoli, for petitioner.
William R. Davis, Secretary of Com., Leroy S. Zimmerman, Atty. Gen., Harrisburg, for respondent.
O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott and Hutchinson, JJ. Nix, J., filed a concurring statement. McDermott, J., concurs in the result.
Petitioner James Crumlish, Jr., President Judge of the Commonwealth Court, has filed this petition for extraordinary relief. He seeks a declaration and direction in mandamus to respondent Secretary of the Commonwealth that three seats on the Commonwealth Court, two of which are presently vacant and one of which will become vacant in June, 1983, are to be filled at the upcoming general election to be held on November 2, 1982. The petition was filed in the Commonwealth Court on July 12, 1982. Upon application
of petitioner and agreement of respondent, this Court assumed plenary jurisdiction on August 16, 1982. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 726.*fn1
The two seats on the Commonwealth Court which are presently vacant are those previously held by Judge Roy Wilkinson, Jr., who resigned from office on March 18, 1981, to accept an appointment to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and by Judge Glenn E. Mencer, who resigned from office on April 15, 1982, to accept an appointment to the federal district court. The seat due to become vacant in June of 1983 is presently held by Judge Genevieve Blatt, who will reach the mandatory retirement age on June 13, 1983. See Pa. Const. art. V, § 16(b). Although nominations for appointment to the Commonwealth Court to fill the seats previously held by Judge Wilkinson and Judge Mencer have been submitted by the Governor to the Senate, confirmation has not yet occurred, and the seats remain unfilled.
In his capacity as President Judge of the Commonwealth Court, petitioner has the responsibility to "supervise the judicial business of the court, . . . [and] make all judicial assignments . . . ." 42 Pa. C.S. § 325(e)(1). Petitioner asserts that he thus has an interest in seeing that the seats on the Commonwealth Court which are vacant or due to become vacant in 1983 be filled at the upcoming November general election "so that the Commonwealth Court may promptly and properly dispose of matters before it."*fn2
In support of his position that an election should be held this year, petitioner relies upon Cavanaugh v. Davis, 497 Pa. 351, 440 A.2d 1380 ...