A proposal to raise the mandatory retirement age for certain state judges was defeated by New York voters Tuesday, paving the way for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to appoint the entire Court of Appeals by the end of a potential second term.
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman was among the major proponents of Proposal No. 6, which would increase the age cap on state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges to 80.
If it would have been approved, three Court of Appeals judges—including Lippman, age 68—would have been able to serve out the remainder of their 14-year term past the age of 70.
Now, five members of the seven-judge high court will see their terms end or be aged out by 2018. Cuomo has already appointed the other two judges; if he wins a second term in 2014, he would be in line to appoint the remaining five.
In an interview late last month, Lippman said the mandatory retirement age amounts to a pre-determined state finding of senility. He pointed to former Chief Judge Judith Kaye, who was forced to retire in 2008 despite being considered at the top of her game.
“We need experienced, wise judges on the bench,” Lippman said then. “Judges get to the bench later in life, they hit their peak later in life and it is so counterproductive to make judges who are at the height of their power leave the bench.”