Extension of judges’ retirement age to 75 good for system

Pennsylvanians overcame incredibly poor referendum wording and voted last week to extend the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. In Lycoming County, the vote for retirement extension was nearly 60 percent in the affirmative. We believe voters in the county and state made the correct decision. There is an immediate application to the vote. It means Republican Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Saylor won’t have to retire next month and Democratic Justice Max Baer won’t have to step down at the end of next year. Is every judge capable of handling the mental rigors and maintaining the supreme reasoning skills of their post through age 75? Probably not. But we would like to think the skills they bring to their job make they capable, more than most people, of knowing when they are no longer able to do their job in a competent fashion. And we don’t believe most judges fall into the traditional elected official foible of desperately cleaning to power. So we don’t believe this referendum is going to hatch a generation of out-of-touch judges on all levels of the state’s court system. To the contrary, it means we will be able to retain the sound judgment skills of capable judges as long as possible. And that’s something to be treasured rather than taken for granted. We need solid, objective, legally astute judges at all level of the justice system. And when we have them, we need to keep them as long as they believe they are capable of handling the duties effectively.