Philadelphia’s 2023 LGBTQ+ Voter’s Guide: Supreme Court/Judges

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With Pennsylvania’s upcoming general election on Tuesday, Nov. 7, there are a number of positions up for the taking, and candidates are continuing to work toward earning votes to secure their seats. PGN compiled this guide to assist voters in understanding each candidate running for major positions in Philadelphia’s and Pennsylvania’s government, along with their backgrounds and how we can expect them to support the LGBTQ+ community. 

The races included in this guide are Justice of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, Judge of Pennsylvania’s Superior Court and Judge of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court. PGN put together this information either through independent research of the candidates’ LGBTQ+ track record or reaching out to the candidates directly about their stance on LGBTQ+ issues.

You can also read our voter’s guide on mayor and City Council candidates here.

Justice of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court

Carolyn Carluccio (R)

Judge Carolyn Carluccio has served as the “first woman” in various positions in Pennsylvania’s courts, including her roles as County Deputy Chief Clerk and as President Judge and Chief Public Defender in Montgomery County. She also has federal legal experience as a former prosecutor, having worked on a number of criminal cases regarding drug dealing and theft. As a judge, Carluccio felt she had a clear path to preside over cases in family court. If elected to the state’s Supreme Court, she aims to bring a fresh perspective while being a firm defender of the constitution and balancing the judicial branch. 

Judge Carluccio is a mother of three adult children, one of whom is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. She told PGN, “… I’ve spent my entire career protecting people’s rights…I have made sure that everyone who has come before me is treated with dignity, fairness, and respect.” Carluccio intends to continue that practice if elected as a Justice to the Supreme Court, assuring to the LGBTQ+ community that, “…you can trust me to uphold the law and protect your rights.”

Daniel McCaffery (D)

Judge Dan McCaffery has emphasized service to the country, community and commonwealth. A former military veteran, McCaffery has served as a prosecutor for the major trials unit for Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s office, and is currently serving on the Court of Judicial Discipline. McCaffery is an active member and regular volunteer for the Democratic Party, highlighting the Party’s shared values as his own. He has received endorsements from Pennsylvania’s Planned Parenthood PAC and Vote Pro Choice.

Judge McCaffery joined Pittsburgh for this year’s Pride celebrations, attending both the PA Democratic Party State Committee as well as marching in Pittsburgh’s Pride Parade. Additionally, he spoke at Liberty City LGBTQ Democratic Club’s annual candidate forum prior to the primary election. McCaffery has spoken on his history of support for the LGBTQ+ community, noting that, “As an assistant district attorney, I prosecuted hate crimes where victims or members of the LGBTQ+ communities [were affected]…I recruited, hired, promoted and made member partners of the LGBT+ community…I practice what I preach.” He also emphasized the importance of legal aid funds, saying, “They perform such a vital role in Pennsylvania and have helped so many people access name changes, deal with disrespectful and bigoted landlords, or overcome any number of unjust challenges…”

Judge of Pennsylvania’s Superior Court***

Maria Battista (R)

Maria Battista is a former Assistant District Attorney with 15 years of experience in civil, criminal and administrative law. She has also served as a Commonwealth attorney, where she presided over a diverse array of cases and was counsel to PA’s Departments of Health and State. In addition to her legal background, Battista has worked as a mediator, public speaker and educational presenter. If elected, she intends to establish her role with efficiency, accountability and transparency.

Battista’s team did not provide a response to PGN’s requests for a statement addressing the LGBTQ+ community.

Jill Beck (D)

Jill Beck has dedicated her career to championing justice for all Pennsylvanians. Beck has a history of supporting the interests of underserved communities, having worked with adolescents who have been adjudicated or are on parole, representing abused and neglected children at KidsVoice, and continuing to represent marginalized communities throughout her legal career. She aims to continue to fight for fairness in the judicial system if elected to serve on the state’s Superior Court.

Beck’s work in supporting those who are underserved in the legal system has included representing members of the LGBTQ+ community. Per her website, it states that she, “knows firsthand that justice is served only when every person — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or income — has fair and equal access to the courts.” She has participated in a number of Pride events in Pittsburgh, and Steel City Stonewall Democrats hosted the Drag Show for Justice to support her candidacy. 

Timika Lane (D)

Judge Timika Lane currently serves in Philadelphia County’s Court of Common Pleas. She has presided over a variety of serious criminal cases such as human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault, as well as supervising county re-entry programs. Prior to serving as a judge, Lane’s career included work as Certified Child Advocate while practicing family law, and taking on roles in community leadership with organizations such as the Black Law Students Community Outreach Program and Advancing Civics Education. She has also volunteered for Bono Domestic Violence Project and Safe Surrender programs at True Gospel Tabernacle Family Church and Enon Tabernacle Family Church.

Judge Lane joined in State College’s Pride celebrations where she was a featured speaker, saying, “Everyone deserves the right to be heard, to be treated with dignity, respect and called by the right pronouns.” Ricky’s Pride PAC highlighted some of Lane’s contributions to the LGBTQ+ community in their endorsement of her, including fighting against restrictive Photo ID laws recognizing shortcomings in the legal system that fall short in protecting community members from housing, accommodation and employment discrimination. 

Harry Smail (R)

Judge Harry Smail is a lifelong Republican and a current member of the Federalist Society, with previous involvement in various Republican organizations in the Westmoreland area. Presently, he is a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Westmoreland County, and notably presided over their 2020 election case, ruling that over 200 provisional ballots be discarded. Smail has additionally ruled against an activist group trying to impede a zoning plan that would prevent fracking in a residential area and in favor of other cases for energy exploration in his county. He has described his political and judicial philosophies best resembling those of Ronald Reagan and Anthony Scalia.

Judge Smail’s team did not respond to PGN’s requests for a statement addressing the LGBTQ+ community.

***2 candidates will be elected to fill 2 vacant seats

Judge of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court

Megan Martin (R)

Megan Martin has 30 years of legal experience under her belt, including being the first woman to serve as the Pennsylvania Senate’s Secretary-Parliamentarian. Additionally, she has taken her career to a state and federal level and all three branches of Pennsylvania government, as well as working as an attorney for the United States Navy. If elected, Martin intends to serve as a fair and impartial judge, extending her service philosophy of protecting constitutional rights and holding the government accountable to the state’s Commonwealth Court.

Megan Martin’s team did not respond to PGN’s requests for a statement addressing the LGBTQ+ community.

Matt Wolf (D)

Judge Matt Wolf is the Supervising Civil Judge of the Philadelphia Municipal Court. A decorated veteran of the United States Army, Judge Wolf has been a trial lawyer for Civil Rights cases, frequently representing individuals subjected to workplace discrimination and government misconduct. He focuses his court on equity and justice, and notably helped develop and implement the eviction diversion program to curb houselessness.

Judge Wolf identifies himself as an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. In a comment for PGN, his campaign manager, Dan Kalai, shared that, “based on his 25-year civil rights fighting record as an attorney representing folks subjected to discrimination in the workplace, he has a track record of fighting against powerful interests on behalf of those historically disenfranchised.” Wolf has also received endorsement from Liberty City Democrats. 

This article is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others. To learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters, visit Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.
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