Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ye olde judges

The state Supreme Court on Monday tossed the case challenging the constitutional requirement that judges retire at 70. That's a good thing.

Ye olde judges

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a/k/a BE)

BE: Hey, JB, I see your favorite court tossed that case allowing judges 70 and older to stay on the bench.

JB: Proving even our Supreme Court, a veritable nest of suspicion, intrigue and in-fighting, can sometimes do something right.

BE: So the "geezers with gavels" issue is retired, yes?

JB: Au contraire, mon editor. There's still a federal suit on the same issue that was put on hold awating this decision.

BE: But this decision was pretty decisive.

JB: Unanimous: 6-0, including the chief, Ron Castille, who's 69 and running in a 10-year retention election this November.

BE: Could that mean he'll now withdraw?

JB: There are those who think that could happen. There are those who think Castille's own court is sending him a message. And there are those who take Castille at his word that he wants to hang in for one more year to clean up stuff he started.

BE: Like his fight with Justice Seamus McCaffery?

JB: For one.

BE: But the retirement thing has some merits. Seventy is the new 50.

JB: And the state constitution is the state constitution. If you want to change the retirement age, use the process required to change the constitution, including getting voter approval, and stop wasting tax dollars and court time on lawsuits going nowhere.

BE: Which, if I recall, is what you wrote back in April.

JB: Thanks for remembering. And a tip of the mortarboard to Duquesne law prof, constitutional expert and veteran court critic Bruce Ledewitz, who told me at the time the court would throw out the case.

BE: It's nice when any government branch in Pennsylvania does something proper.

JB: And rare. Savor the moment. 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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

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

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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