Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Max Baer died conscionable months earlier helium was slated to retire, the tribunal said implicit the weekend.
Baer, 74, died connected Saturday astatine his location adjacent Pittsburgh, the tribunal confirmed successful a quality release. Other details astir his decease were not provided.
“Pennsylvania has mislaid a jurist who served the Court and the citizens of the Commonwealth with distinction,” said caller Chief Justice Debra Todd successful a quality release. “Chief Justice Baer was an influential and intelligence jurist whose unwavering absorption was connected administering just and balanced justice. He was a tireless champion for children, devoted to protecting and providing for our youngest and astir susceptible citizens.”
Baer was elected to the tribunal arsenic a Democrat, and his decease leaves a 4–2 Democrat bulk connected the commonwealth’s precocious court. In 2003, helium was archetypal elected to the Supreme Court earlier helium was sworn successful arsenic the precocious court’s main justness successful 2021.
Earlier this year, Baer was portion of the 5-2 bulk arsenic the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a wide enlargement of mail-in voting successful Pennsylvania. Notably, helium besides sided with the court’s bulk successful a ruling that favored Democrats to widen the usage of the state’s mail-in voting and ballot driblet boxes with weeks to spell earlier the 2020 election.
Todd added that Baer’s “distinguished work and committedness to justness and fairness spanned his decades connected the bench,” including arsenic a household tribunal justice successful Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County. He yet worked arsenic an administrative justice successful a household tribunal earlier helium was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
“On behalf of the Court,” Todd wrote, “we connection our deepest condolences to family, friends, and colleagues of Chief Justice Baer.”
Baer was acceptable to discontinue astatine the extremity of 2022 aft reaching the mandatory status property of 75. The tribunal said the spot had already been slated to beryllium connected the 2023 ballot, and “in the interim the politician whitethorn take to marque an appointment, taxable to confirmation by the Senate.”
Gov. Tom Wolf ordered authorities flags astatine commonwealth facilities, nationalist buildings, and grounds lowered to half-staff.
“I’m highly saddened to larn that Chief Justice Baer passed away,” Wolf, a Democrat, said successful a statement. “He was a respected and esteemed jurist with decades of work to our courts and our commonwealth. I americium grateful for his contributions and enactment successful the Supreme Court.”
The governor’s bureau told the Pittsburgh Tribune connected Saturday that Wolf hasn’t yet decided whether to nominate a replacement for Baer. That nominee would necessitate the support of two-thirds of the GOP-controlled authorities Senate, portion Pennsylvania voters volition elite a imperishable replacement successful 2023.
“On behalf of the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus, I connection my deepest condolences and sympathies to the family, friends, colleagues and loved ones of Chief Justice Max Baer,” said Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, a Republican, successful a connection to the Tribune. “Of note, his admirable enactment successful the country of foster care, adoption and kid advocacy is thing that has had a monumental interaction connected the lives of countless Pennsylvania children and made the imagination of becoming a household a world for many.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.