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GOP Pennsylvania Judge Thomas K. Kistler (State College)

GOP Pennsylvania Judge Thomas K. Kistler (State College)

A Pennsylvania Supreme Court nominee withdrew his name for the seat Monday after coming under fire for a racially insensitive 2013 Facebook image he forwarded to colleagues, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Republican Judge Thomas K. Kistler (pictured), president judge in Centre County since 2012, was nominated late last year by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to fill a vacancy on the state’s supreme court. The seat will now remain open until elections in November, the report notes.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

The Inquirer reported Friday concern from legislators and others over an e-mail sent in December 2013 by Kistler titled “Merry Christmas From the Johnsons.” The message depicted a Black man and a Black woman during what appears to be a jail visit. The man, smiling and wearing an orange prison uniform, sits behind a glass window.

Forwarded with a subject line that read[“]best Christmas card ever,” the message also includes cartoon depictions of Santa Claus and reindeer.

Kistler has confirmed that he had forwarded the message, but maintained that there was no ill intent.


In a statement released Monday, he did not elaborate on his reason for withdrawing his name for the position.

In a statement, Kistler made no mention of the e-mail or the furor surrounding it. Instead, he said that “several circumstances have developed here, at home, in Centre County, which have dramatically altered the legal system and require my full attention.”

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Racist Holiday Card Allegedly Prompts Pa. Supreme Court Nominee to Withdraw Name  was originally published on