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Mandatory retirement age for Pa. judges upheld

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UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld Pennsylvania's mandatory retirement age for judges.

Four state judges from Philadelphia, Northampton and Fayette counties had challenged the provision that jurists must step down at the age of 70, The (Uniontown) Herald-Standard reported.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited earlier rulings in rejecting the judges' equal protection challenge Tuesday, in particular a 1991 U.S. Supreme Court decision they said they were required to follow unless it was "explicitly overruled" by the high court.

The state judges had contended that more recent Supreme Court decisions required reconsidering the constitutionality of the Pennsylvania law, but the appeals panel said neither case explicitly overruled the earlier decision, "let alone addressed legislation similar to" the mandatory judicial retirement provision.

A federal judge earlier had dismissed the challenge, noting that there was irony in the fact that federal judges are appointed for life while Pennsylvania judges must abide by the state's set retirement age.

Last summer, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a similar lawsuit filed in state court.

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