- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania’s highest court said Wednesday it will decide whether the Legislature acted properly in April when it pulled a constitutional amendment on judicial retirement age from the primary ballot to have it rewritten.

The Supreme Court announced it was taking up the challenge to the November ballot question filed earlier this month by two of the court’s former justices and a prominent Philadelphia lawyer.

The court put the case on a fast track, giving Secretary of State Pedro Cortes until Aug. 3 to respond.

The plaintiffs argued the new wording will defraud voters because it does not mention that Pennsylvania already has a judicial retirement age of 70.

The constitutional amendment would change that age to 75, and they say some people might assume they are voting to establish a mandatory retirement age for the first time.



The two highest-ranking leaders in the Republican-controlled Senate, Majority Leader Jake Corman and President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, are seeking to intervene in the case.

Justice Thomas Saylor, who turns 70 in December, did not participate in the decision to take the case.

The case was filed by former justices Ronald Castille, a Republican, and Stephen Zappala Sr., a Democrat, along with lawyer Dick Sprague.

The decision to invalidate the April referendum occurred too late to prevent voting. About 2.4 million people cast ballots on the question, which was narrowly defeated in unofficial results.

Three Democratic senators challenged the Legislature’s last-minute decision to delay the April vote, but a three-judge Commonwealth Court said lawmakers acted properly under their authority to determine when and how people will vote on proposed constitutional amendments. They filed a notice of appeal on July 15.

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