The battle is underway in Pennsylvania regarding mandatory retirement for Judges. Article V Section 16 of the Pennsylvania constitution requires all Appellate Court, Court of Common Pleas and Justices of the Peace to retire at the age of 70.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed by Judges across Pennsylvania challenging Pennsylvania’s mandatory retirement age for Judges. Just this past week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard argument on the issue. It creates an interesting conflict for the Court since many of the Justices themselves will be facing the issue of mandatory retirement in the near future
The question is will the Court strike down the mandatory retirement provision in the Pa Constitution and if so when will it take effect. The Pennsylvania primary is scheduled for Tuesday May 21st. During that primary there are many judicial races for candidates vying for vacancies that will be created by mandatory retirements. The Supreme Court could rule prior to the primary but it is highly unlikely. If they did strike the provision in the Pa constitution and it took effect immediately it has the potential for creating chaos in elections across the Commonwealth.
In addition to the Court challenges, there is proposed legislation to amend the Pennsylvania constitution. State Representative Kate Harper has introduced legislation to amend the constitution to extend the mandatory retirement age from 70 to 75. According to a memo released by Harper in order for the amendment to take effect it would have to be passed by 2 sessions of the legislature and approved by the voting public. Keep posted, the older we all get the more this is becoming an issue. As in any profession, there are highly qualified judges who should not be compelled to retire based upon a chronological age. Conversely, some would argue that there are some judges who should retire in their 40’s or 50’s.