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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20130&cosponId=9947
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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: December 11, 2012 03:37 PM
From: Representative Kate Harper
To: All House members
Subject: Cosponsor Request - Raising the Mandatory Retirement Age for Judges - Former HB 2129
 
In the near future, I will be reintroducing former HB 2129. This piece of legislation will amend the Pennsylvania Constitution that would raise the mandatory retirement age for judges in the Commonwealth.

Specifically, the measure would amend Section 16 (b) of Article V of the Constitution to increase the mandatory retirement age for justices, judges and justices of the peace from 70 to 75 years old. To become law, the amendment must receive a majority vote of two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly and an affirmative vote by the electorate. There are many reasons why this adjustment of the retirement age for judges is sound policy for the management of our court system.

Currently, there are at least eight judges challenging the Pennsylvania constitutional provision that mandates members of the judiciary retire at the end of the year in which they turn 70. Mandatory retirement is generally unlawful in the United States for most industries and occupations. Many states and the federal judiciary have no mandatory retirement age for judges. This results in a system that is arguably less discriminatory and allows voters the right to elect and retain judges of their choice regardless of age. Further, raising the retirement age would save the state’s retirement system money. Judges who have been a judge for at least 10 years have a 3 percent multiplier of the retirement as opposed to a 4 percent multiplier for judges in their subsequent terms and thus save the government money.

By giving judges more time on the bench, the Commonwealth and its citizens will benefit from the knowledge, experience, and temperament of seasoned jurists. The extended retirement age will also serve to attract qualified legal practitioners to run for the bench. The possibility of serving an additional five years on the bench may entice them to leave lucrative private legal practices at the height of their careers and enter public service.

Finally, I note that the life expectancy of the average person in 1968, when the Pennsylvania Constitution was most recently revised, was approximately 70 years. By contrast, the current life expectancy is approximately 78 years because of medical advancement and healthier lifestyles. Accordingly, it seems appropriate to update our Constitution to reflect this new reality by changing the mandatory retirement age for our judges to 75 years old.

Please join me in cosponsoring this important piece of legislation.

PREVIOUS COSPONSORS: BOBACK, BROOKS, CALTAGIRONE, COHEN, DALEY, EVERETT, GILLEN, GODSHALL, GROVE, KORTZ, KREIGER, LAWRENCE, LONGIETTI, MOUL, MURT, O’BRIEN, PASHINISKI, PEIFER, QUINN, TAYLOR, WATSON, WHITE, YOUNGBLOOD

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Introduced as HB79