Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You're Too Old

I was looking at the Supreme Court of Victoria website, and saw that Victorian judges have an age limit. You have to retire once you're 70. If you were appointed before 1986, you can wait until you're 72.

I was pretty sure my country didn't have these age limits, but I sought out Lord Wiki, so he could confirm that for me.

Yep. There's no age limit....at least not in the Federal Court. Perhaps locally?

The ages of the American Supreme Court judges range from ages 55-77. So, there's no one on there now who's super old.

As for Australia, I was wondering if the age limit existed in just Victoria, or all the states. This article from 2008 says it varies. Federally speaking, the retirement age is 70. If I'm reading this right...it looks like New South Wales wants to let judges stay on for a longer bit.

The Attorney-General of NSW, John Hatzistergos was interviewed for the article and talked about how life expectancy has gone up. He says, We are just living in different times now. I don't accept the view that you reach a use-by date in the law. Law is one of those professions where you can continue to contribute beyond a particular age.

I think I agree with him. Cutting people off at a certain age seems discriminatory to me. That's not to say that most people shouldn't be cut off. I'm guessing many elderly people ARE out of touch with the morals and ideals of modern society. But that doesn't mean all of them are.

Maybe some kind of test could be invented...something that would weed out the people who are....

I don't know what the right word is.

Maybe..... Out of touch.

It's like those old family doctors. They're sweet and all, but still offering advice from the 1950's. They give you the impression they haven't looked at a medical journal in the last decade.

The problem though is that there's no real consensus on morals and culture. What's seen as old fashioned by some, might be seen as the RIGHT WAY by others.

For example....spanking. Some people believe this is old fashioned and barbaric. Other people feel it is a necessary tool in parenting; and they believe the world is going to be taken over and destroyed by spoiled children who never got smacked by their moms and dads.

I am pretty sure that in most cases it's the elderly who are more likely to cling to viewpoints popular in previous decades. But I think there are exceptions. There are old people who think it's totally fine to be gay, and might even march in Sydney's Mardi Gras parade. And there are people in their twenties and thirties who might think anti-sodomy laws should be returned to the books.

Then again, maybe it's a cognitive thing....a worry that those over 70 will be suffering from dementia. Like I said though, maybe there can be some kind of test that judges need to take. That would probably be better than ruling people out who were not hip/out of touch. How do you measure that? But it would probably be reasonably possible to come up with a valid test for dementia.