Sarah Palin just appointed 47-year-old Morgan Christen to Alaska’s Supreme Court. Christen will have the opportunity to serve up to 23 years in her new position because of Alaska’s mandatory retirement age for judges kicks in at 70.
Plainly put, 23 years is more than long enough, though it would be nearly a decade less than the term served by Warren Matthews, the man that Christen is replacing.
Federal judges, including the U.S. Supreme Court, should be subject to a similar mandatory retirement age. 70 might be a little aggressive for a SCOTUS position, perhaps 75 might be more appropriate, but a fixed endpoint is needed for non-elected, effectively unimpeachable officials.
The wisdom in venerable elder statesmen should not be taken lightly. But service into one’s dotage is no service at all, it is a disservice. Consider Robert Byrd, for example, as one who should have left office long since and would have, if the nation’s interests were first in his heart.