Monday, March 18, 2013

Corbett opposes judges' law suits attacking mandatory retirement

Governor Tom Corbett is asking that law suits filed by several Pennsylvania judges in federal court trying to overturn a state law requiring judges to retire at age 70 be dismissed, reported the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

The arguments the judges are making have already been weighed, and found wanting, in other U.S. court cases, Corbett contends in asking U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III to dismiss the challenge to the Pennsylvania retirement mandate.

Eight county judges from across the state filed two lawsuits last year in bids to kill the retirement mandate. Retirement at that age has been mandatory for Pennsylvania judges under an amendment to the state constitution that was adopted 43 years ago.

The judges argue in their suits, which have been consolidated into a single case, that the retirement law constitutes age discrimination and violates the bedrock tenets of the federal and state constitutions.
They claim there is no legitimate reason judges should have to quit at 70 and that many judges actually become better at their jobs as they grow older and gain experience, reported the Patriot-News.

Corbett, who is being defended in the case by the attorney general's office, is countering that prior rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals buttress Pennsylvania's judicial retirement law.

Specifically, the governor cites a Supreme Court decision in a case challenging such a law in Missouri.

The nation's highest court found in the Missouri case that the retirement mandate didn't violate the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause, Corbett noted. Also, he said, the court found that "rather than determining fitness (of judges) through individualized testing, a state may rationally choose instead to set a maximum age limitation," reported the Patriot-News.

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