Pennsylvania Judge Loses Challenge to Age Limit

     (CN) – Two Pennsylvania judges failed to convince the stated Supreme Court that the mandatory retirement age of 70 is unconstitutional.
     Judge Rochelle Friedman and Judge Alan Rubenstein, along with other plaintiffs who voted for them, challenged the age limit in a complaint against Gov. Thomas Corbett and other state officials.
     They argued that the state law that requires judges to retire by Dec. 31 of the year they turn 70 is unlawful age discrimination that deprives voters of the opportunity to elect the candidates of their choice.
     The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found last week, however, that the action failed under a consolidated opinion it reached last month in Driscoll v. Corbett and Tilson v. Corbett. To overturn the age limit, the petitioners needed to show “clearly, palpably and plainly – that the amendment is so unreasonable as to be considered irrational,” the ruling states.
     Here, the petitioners had introduced evidence that Pennsylvania citizens live and work longer than they did in the age limit was enacted in 1968, and that the voters believed they were electing the judges for full 10-year terms.
     The state Supreme Court ruled that the petitioners’ evidence was “unnecessary relative to the claim that the age-70 requirement mandate is irrational, since this claim represents a legal conclusion that we rejected in Driscoll.”
     In a concurring opinion, Chief Justice Ronald Castille noted that voters approved the age restriction as part of a judicial reform package in 1968.
     “This is the way broad Constitution-making via Convention (as opposed to specific, single-subject adjustments arising via political determinations by the General Assembly) works: it involves precisely such difficult decisions, and voters have to decide whether or not to take the bad with the good,” he wrote (parentheses in original).

%d bloggers like this: