Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Castille on Castille

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille holds forth on his future in an interview with capitolwire.com.

Castille on Castille


The online news service capitolwire.com on Monday published an interesting interview with state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille on the Philly jurist's future.

Castille's term on the court is set to end next year unless he runs in a 10-year retention election.

But the state Constitution requires judges to retire at 70. Castille is 68. If retained next year, he'd have just one year more on the bench.

As capitolwire.com's bureau chief Pete DeCoursey points out, that creates potential political problems for Castille's own Republican Party.

If retained then forced to leave the bench, his replacement would be elected in 2015, a Philly mayoral election year that would mean huge Democratic turnout in the city and, therefore, an advantage to any Democrat running for the high court.

If, on the other hand, Castille does not seek retention, his replacement would be elected in 2013 when Democratic turnout would be much lighter, giving Republicans a better chance.

Almost no one I've spoken with doubts Castille will run again, and his language in the capitolwire interview suggests that he will.

For example, Castille angered fellow Republicans by throwing out their initial legislative redistricting plan, which was even more partisan than usual. But when asked about securing political support for a retention election, the justice said, "Maybe the Democratic (state committee) will endorse me."

He also said he'd like to stay around to resolve a couple things, including finishing the Family Court building in Philly and cleaning up the tix-fix Traffic Court mess.

He also cited his long career of public service, including a decorated Vietnam War combat stint in the Marine Corps, 20 years as Philly DA and 19 years (so far) on the state's highest court.

"I feel like I've earned the right to stay," Castille told DeCoursey.

There is litigation challenging the constitutional requirement for mandatory retirement which could allow Castille to serve much longer if he were to be successfully retained next year.

Again, sounding as though that's his intention, he's quoted by capitolwire asking, "If you can be (a) legislator or governor at age 80, why can't you be a judge?"

So stay tuned, court fans. But it looks like the will-he/won't-he question is leaning towards he will.




Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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