People protest in front of the White House during the annual National Women’s March on January 22, 2023 in Washington, DC. The march was held to mark the 50-year anniversary since the ruling on Roe v. Wade, and to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health case, which takes back federal protections for abortion access. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Reproductive Freedom for All, the organization formerly known as NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the Capital-Star on Friday that it is endorsing Judge Daniel McCaffery for Pennsylvania Supreme Court, only its second-ever endorsement in a judicial race.
Republican candidate Carolyn Carluccio, a judge on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, is running against Democrat McCaffery, a judge on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The two are vying for the seat left vacant on the state Supreme Court after the death of Justice Max Baer last year.
Reproductive Freedom for All, founded as NARAL in 1969, hasn’t historically been involved in judicial races, but after Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, state judges are now more likely to decide cases involving reproductive rights, which has drawn its attention.
Abortion is legal in Pennsylvania up until 24 weeks, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is currently weighing a case involving Medicaid coverage for abortion, which Reproductive Freedom for All noted in a news release shared Friday morning with the Capital-Star. The group accused Carluccio of scrubbing her website of her anti-abortion stances, and pointed to Carluccio’s endorsement by the PA Pro-Life Federation.
“State courts are the front line in the fight for reproductive freedom, and it’s critical that we elect fair-minded judges who value our fundamental rights,” Reproductive Freedom for All President and CEO Mini Timmaraju said. “Our more than 159,000 members in the Commonwealth are ready to mobilize to elect Judge McCaffery.”
Democrats currently have a 4-2 majority on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, and justices serve 10-year terms. Three of the four Democratic justices — Christine Donohue, David N. Wecht, and Kevin M. Dougherty — will be up for reelection when their terms end in 2026.
The current race for the state Supreme Court has drawn significant funding for both candidates, putting it on track to be one of the most expensive judicial elections ever in Pennsylvania. SpotlightPA reported this week that McCaffery has raised $2 million since the beginning of 2023, and Carluccio has raised $3.4 million, of which $2.1 million came from the Commonwealth Leaders Fund, an organization that has received funding from conservative Pennsylvania billionaire Jeffrey Yass.
Earlier this week, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) announced it would make a “six-figure investment” in the race, calling it an election that will have “long-term consequences, not just for the court, but for the state Legislature as well.” Planned Parenthood Votes, the political arm of reproductive rights organization Planned Parenthood, has poured money into a state ad campaign — the largest investment it’s ever made in a state supreme court race. The ads criticized Carluccio’s stance on reproductive rights, also claiming she wiped references to her previous position against abortion from her website.
Carluccio received the Republican Party endorsement in the primary, and is endorsed by the PA Pro-Life Federation and Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania, both of which oppose abortion.
Her campaign spokesperson previously told the Capital-Star that Carluccio was not an activist judge and that her website had undergone a redesign, but that Carluccio would not attempt to legislate from the bench.
The general election in Pennsylvania is Nov. 7. The deadline to register to vote in the election is Oct. 23.
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