Pa. high court grapples with judge retirement age

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is considering whether to invalidate a portion of the state constitution that requires judges to retire by the end of the year once they turn 70.

The justices heard argument Wednesday in two cases in which judges said the constitutional provision conflicts with another one that prevents age discrimination.

The case is of particular interest to the justices, as three of them are nearing age 70.

A lawyer for Gov. Tom Corbett, who is defending the mandatory retirement age, said he's unaware of any court in the United States ever ruling that one part of a constitution conflicts with another.

Similar legal challenges are also pending in federal court and state Commonwealth Court.

A handful of local judges are among those who are challenging the state rule, including Alan Rubenstein of Bucks County, Arthur Tilson of Montgomery County and Leonard Zito of Northampton County.

Pennsylvania judges who hit age 70 can still hear cases as senior judges.

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