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When should judges be put out to pasture?

by AirTalk®

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The U.S. Supreme Court justices (first row, from left) Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (back row) Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Several Pennsylvania judges are suing the state over mandatory retirement. The judges argue forcing them to retire at age 70 is unconstitutional. Last week, the case moved up to federal court.

That's not the only state weighing the wisdom of losing seasoned judges too early. New York is considering legislation allowing judges to stay on until age 80. While dozens of states push judges out around age 70, California has no such rule, neither do federal courts.

The court bench isn't the only profession with mandatory retirement. Airline pilots, FBI agents,  firefighters, air traffic controllers and more are shown the door before their age can have negative effects on the job.

With an ever aging population, how can we guarantee the mental and physical fitness of workers in these important roles? Which mental and intellectual skills decline, or improve, into old age? What are other costs and benefits associated with mandatory retirement?


Dr. Gary Small, co-author of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program and Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA

David DeLong, president, David DeLong & Associates, a workforce consulting firm, research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab and author of Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce (Oxford University Press)

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