Challenge to mandatory retirement for judges fails

June 21, 2013 Judges in Pennsylvania have failed in their bid to prove that the state’s mandatory retirement age is constitutionally invalid.

The provision requiring compulsory retirement at age 70 was adopted as a state constitutional amendment in 1968, and the judges argued that since that date advances in medical science have made is possible to remain in the job beyond 70. The judges argued that the mandatory retirement age conflicts with the state constitution’s Declaration of Rights protecting the “inherent rights of mankind.” They also claimed their election to a 10-year term gave them a property right to keep their jobs for the entire time.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously rejected the judges’ legal arguments, saying that any change to the provision should occur via legislative process.

"We do not believe that the charter's framers regarded an immutable ability to continue in public service … as being within the scope of the inherent rights of mankind," the court said.

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