Thursday, February 5, 2015

Are 72-year-olds incapable of sharp thought?

Rep. Dan Bishop of Charlotte has filed a bill to change the law that forces judges to retire at age 72. But it's not the change that's needed.

Bishop, with three co-sponsors, filed a bill Wednesday that would have judges retire on Dec. 31 of the year they turn 72. Current law forces them to retire on the last day of the month in which they turn 72. So the bill would give judges one to 11 extra months before facing mandatory retirement.

That's fine as far as it goes. The change, we imagine, is designed to have a more orderly replacement for the retiring judge. The seat could be on the November ballot and avoid a long vacancy, an appointment, or a special election.

The bill fails, though, in that it does nothing to address the main problem: North Carolina arbitrarily forces outstanding judges into retirement even if they are as mentally and physically as strong as ever. Rather than tinkering with the precise retirement date, North Carolina needs to eliminate the mandatory retirement age of 72 altogether.

Then-Justice Sarah Parker thanks a
waitress at a retirement lunch last year.
As we said in an editorial last August, the law forces out good judges who want to keep working and should be allowed to. N.C. Chief Justice Sarah Parker of Charlotte and Superior Court Judge Bill Constangy were both forced to retire last August because of the age limit. Neither was known to have faltered in any way in their abilities.

The law took effect in 1971, when life expectancies and abilities after age 70 were quite different from today. Working at a high level past age 72 is now common in many fields. Federal judges, by comparison, face no mandatory retirement age. And it's costly: the retiring judge gets a healthy pension while the state pays another judge to take the seat.

As we said in August, "The bigger cost, however, is the experience and wisdom that leave the bench when judges are forced to retire. Let judges -- and the people who elect them -- determine when it's time to go."

Bishop should upgrade his bill by amending it to abolish the age-72 requirement, not just push the retirement off a few months.

-- Taylor Batten


deepenwide said...

I'm 60 with a college education. I have many friends in their 70's and I promise you most of us if pushed to be truthful will tell you that our ability to maintain a high level of critical thinking has diminished. We attempt to substitute critical thinking with wisdom and get away with it most of the time. Judges should retire at 65 in my opinion. They don't because of a thirst for power and status that overpowers their common sense. Sure there are exceptions. A test would not solve the problem because us old fellows with power are good at cheating on tests that are forced upon them. Mandatory 65, go fishing and enjoy your remaining years is the way to go.

Garth Vader said...

The Observer Editorial Board consistently demonstrates that you can be incapable of sharp thought long before you hit 72.

The concept of a career politician was foreign to the people who built this country, as evidenced by George Washington's decision to limit himself to two terms in office, a precedent his successors followed for over 150 years.

Whether by term limits or mandatory retirement, the concept of "officeholder-for-life" must be banished from our civic lexicon.

elite games said...

did you see where the CO's messiah Obama compared Christianity with ISIS? Probably wont' hear that via the MSM.