Pa. moves toward extending mandatory judicial retirement age to 75

    A Pennsylvania House panel has approved a measure to give state judges an extra five years on the bench.The plan to raise state judges’ mandatory retirement age to 75 still has a long way to go. The age limit is written into the state Constitution – and the amendment process is expected to take four or five years.

    Meanwhile, a number of challenges to the age limit are pending in federal and state courts.

    Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler, notes the reaction from the state Supreme Court, which heard arguments last week on striking down the retirement age.

    “We haven’t heard from what they thought and I guess the word is they don’t think they should be deciding for themselves,” Ellis said. “But I’m just wondering, is this something we should be doing at this point?”

    Ellis said he’s not sold on allowing judges to stay on the state’s payroll longer – pointing out the potential for pension costs to increase.

    Supporters of the House measure to give judges until 75 before they must retire say it strikes the right balance — updating a decades-old rule without stymieing the careers of younger aspiring judges.

    Others refer to pending cases before state and federal courts.

    A Senate proposal would abolish the mandatory retirement rule altogether.

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