Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille plans to run for retention this fall, even though he will hit the mandatory retirement age of 70 next year and will have to leave the bench.
"There's a couple of projects I think I should be here for, at least until 2014," Castille said.
By 2020, four other judges will reach retirement age. If suspended Justice Joan Orie Melvin is ousted, six of the seven current Supreme Court Justices will be gone within eight years.
"It would be a real sea change," said Lynn A. Marks, of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.
Castille has said that before his tenure on the court ends, he would like to finish the overhaul of the Philadelphia Traffic Court, currently embroiled in a ticket fixing scandal. He also wants to oversee the completion of the Family Court building in Philadelphia, scheduled for June 2014, which had seen its own share of problems during its design and execution, resulting in a lawsuit settled for $4 million in November.
Two recent cases, filed in state court but removed to federal court last month, challenge the mandatory retirement age for Pennsylvania judges, characterizing the policy as discriminatory and a violation of the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution and Article I of the state constitution. Castille has said that if the lawsuit is successful, he would like to serve at least two years of his new term. Leaving in 2015, an election year, would allow his successor to be directly chosen by vote, rather than appointed by the governor.
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