About the Supreme Court

Celebrating 300 Years!

Established in 1772, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the oldest appellate court in the country. As the state’s highest court, the justices make the final decisions interpreting Pennsylvania’s laws and Constitution and hear cases involving issues of immediate public importance arising from any court in the Commonwealth. The Supreme Court is also responsible for supervising and administering Pennsylvania’s entire judicial branch of government.

Why is the Supreme Court Important?

Even if you have never had a case in court yourself, so many of the decisions made there affect your rights and freedoms.

Voting rights – Workplace rights – Property rights – Family Law rights – Civil rights and more. The Supreme Court protects our constitutional rights and strives to ensure equal justice and protections under the law.

How a case gets to the Supreme Court:

  1. The Supreme Court Justices primarily hear appeals from the PA Superior & Commonwealth courts, but sometimes hear direct appeals from the trial court, such as in death penalty cases.
  2. They can consider any case pending in a lower court that is considered of “Immediate Public Importance.”
  3. At its discretion the court can grant an appeal with the approval of three justices.

The PA Supreme Court receives over 2,000 requests for review annually!

Administrative Duties of the Supreme Court:

  • Supervise the entire PA Unified Judicial System (Yes! Every court in the state.)
  • Make the procedural rules for the administration of justice in our courts.
  • Regulate the practice of law, including admission to the bar and attorney discipline.
  • Establish advisory boards to assist the court with the administration of various items within the judicial system, including our “Problem Solving Courts.” See below for more information on these specialty courts.
  • Veterans Courts
    Veterans Courts assist veterans charged with crimes through volunteer mentor training and specialized probation officers.
  • Drug Courts
    Working with criminal justice partners, drug courts combine judicial supervision, treatment, sanctions, and incentives to help break the cycle of drug addiction and crime.
  • DUI Courts
    DUI Courts are dedicated to changing the behavior of DUI offenders.
  • Juvenile Drug Courts
    Juvenile Drug Courts incorporate specialized services for youth and their families.
  • Mental Health Courts
    Mental Health Courts partner with policy makers to divert defendants with mental illness into judicially supervised programs.
As you can see, our courts impact our lives so much more than most realize, which is why it is so critical for you to engage in our judicial elections.

For more information regarding the Pennsylvania Supreme Court please visit: