Only one African American justice has been elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court throughout the commonwealth’s history; Robert N.C. Nix, who after being elected in 1972, rose to serve 10 years as chief justice before retiring in 1996.
That could change this year with former Pittsburgh Steeler and longtime Allegheny Common Pleas Judge Dwayne Woodruff vying for the lone vacancy on the state’s top court. Though he finished well back in a crowded primary field last year, he now has something not even Nix had—the endorsement of the state Democratic Committee.
“After choking up a bit, he spoke strongly and promised to represent the people of Pennsylvania well and make them proud,” said his wife Joy Maxberry Woodruff. “He received a standing ovation from approximately 300 delegates. What a blessing.”
Woodruff noted the difference during the endorsement meeting in Harrisburg, Feb. 11.
“Last time we had the whole football team up here, now we just have the quarterback,” he said.
Woodruff is the only Democratic candidate in the race, and with only Tioga County Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy running on the Republican side, the May Primary election will be a formality for both.
“It’s been our judicial system that has been our backstop to make sure that our individual rights and our family rights are protected,” Woodruff told the committee.
The race is for the seat formerly held by Republican Michael Eakin, who resigned after becoming embroiled in a porn email scandal. Should he win the Democrats would hold a 5-3 majority on the state’s highest court.