At about the age of 77, my father won a Silver Medal in the Senior Olympics in Ping Pong in Broward County, Florida.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses —Grandma Moses— began painting in her seventies, and painted well in to her very late 90s.
In November 2006, her work Sugaring Off (1943), became her highest selling work at US $1.2 million. World famous cellist Pablo Casals, then age 93, was asked why he continued to practice the cello three hours a day. Casals replied "I'm beginning to notice some improvement.”
In 1998, John Glenn became the oldest person to fly in space, and the only one to fly in both the Mercury and Shuttle programs, when at age 77, he flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Ronald Reagan, just a few weeks short of his 70th birthday in January 1981, took the oath of office to become the President of the United States.
And folk music icon Pete Seeger, who at the age of 90 played on stage at the inaugural of President Barack Obama with Bruce Springsteen.
Valuable accomplishments all. We should be proud of these folks. The septuagenarians, octogenarians, and nonagenarians. And some ceturgenarians.
But if you’re a septuagenarian judge in New Jersey, we’re not proud. It is because of the troublesome and archaic Article VI, Section VI, paragraph 3 of the New Jersey Constitution:
“…justices and judges shall be retired upon attaining the age of 70 years.”
So, as soon as a Justice achieves the wisdom that aging and ‘sage-ing’ gives us, they are tossed off the bench.
Buh-bye, and thanks for all the judging. Your clock has stopped. As Porky Pig would studdder, “That’s All Folks!”. It’s Jim Morrison and The Doors singing “The End”.
Well, with 90 being the “New 70”, and 70 being the “New 50”, and so on, it’s time to change that.
If you're an avid reader of the New Jersey Law Journal, you can see ads for those who have retired from the bench offering their services for Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Former Justice Alan B. Handler served as a New Jersey Supreme Court Justice from 1977 until 1999, and now serves in an Of Counsel position with Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer. Former Justice James H. Coleman, Jr. is Of Counsel to Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C, and served on the Supreme Court from 1994–2003. And Chief Supreme Court Chief Justice Deborah Poritz served on the Supreme Court from 1996 to 2006. And now she is of counsel to the Princeton office of Drinker, Biddle & Reath.
If private sector law firms can recognize the value of the judicial brainpower of these Justices, why can’t the New Jersey state government?
We’re forcing some very good people off the bench way before their time—and all for artificial reasons. It’s time to amend the NJ Constitution, and get the wisdom of their years from these folks.
And so, each year tens of thousands of men and women, over the age of 70 accomplish much in their lives. Not every one of them flies through space or paints or plays the cello. Some even are ping-pong champions.
And some are Justices and judges, still with a great deal to offer