Rendell to pick Colins for Pa. high court job

January 28, 2008 5:53:14 PM PST
Gov. Ed Rendell is preparing to nominate a former Commonwealth Court judge to fill a vacant spot on the state Supreme Court, according to the judge and legislative officials who were briefed Monday by the governor's aides.

Judge James Gardner Colins, reached by telephone, said he believes his nomination may face some opposition in the Senate, but was confident he will ultimately be confirmed.

"I wouldn't say this is a rubber-stamped agenda, but I'm very optimistic," Colins said.

A spokesman for Rendell declined comment on the matter. Rendell is planning a news conference for Tuesday at which he intended to name his picks to fill the open position on the Supreme Court and three other open state appellate court posts, Gardner and legislative officials said.

Colins, a Democrat and Philadelphia native, retired in October from the Commonwealth Court, where he had served 24 years, including 10 as president judge.

Colins, 61, served with Rendell in the city district attorney's office in the 1970s.

Any nomination to the Supreme Court requires a two-thirds majority vote from the Senate for approval. Currently, the Senate is controlled by Republicans, 29-21, and some GOP senators are likely to oppose Colins' nomination, aides said.

Stephen C. MacNett, general counsel to Senate Republicans, said the caucus has a sense of disappointment over Colins' pick because he would not be seen as independent of the governor.