Justice unhappy as age limit forces her off Ohio high court

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2010 file photo, Ohio Supreme Court Justice-elect Judith Lanzinger speaks to supporters during the Ohio Republican Party celebration in Columbus, Ohio. Two Ohio Supreme Court justices have heard oral arguments from that bench for the last time as they head toward retirement due to mandatory age limits. Court ended its oral arguments for the year on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2016, so Lanzinger and Paul Pfeifer can help resolve undecided cases..(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — One of the two Ohio Supreme Court justices retiring at year’s end due to mandatory age limits said she’s “a bit unhappy” as those rules force her from the bench.

Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger tells The Blade in Toledo that perhaps the provision made more sense when people weren’t living so long. She noted that the judicial branch is the only branch of government with such a requirement, which she says restricts someone even “when you have a lot of mental and physical energy.”

But, it also “makes room for new blood to come into the judiciary,” she said. In Lanzinger’s case, it opens the way for her son, a Toledo Municipal Court judge, to seek election.

Lanzinger and the most senior justice, Paul Pfeifer of Bucyrus, must retire because the rules prohibit justices over 70 from seeking re-election. Ohioans voted in 2011 against raising that age to 75.

Their departure means the Supreme Court will have no justice from northwest Ohio for the first time in decades.

Lanzinger’s elected replacement is 1st District Court of Appeals Judge Pat Fischer, who will be the first Ohio justice from Cincinnati in about 45 years. The open seat created by Pfeifer’s departure will be filled by Pat DeWine, the state attorney general’s son.

The high court will continue to have six Republicans and one Democrat.

Meanwhile, Pfeifer has been appointed as executive director of Ohio’s judicial advocacy group, the Ohio Judicial Conference. Lanzinger says she may continue teaching or turn her attention to her love of art, music and calligraphy.


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