The age of constitutional senility

04_07_raker.jpgToday marked Court of Appeals Judge Irma S. Raker’s last session of oral argument before turning 70, and Chief Judge Robert M. Bell used the occasion to take a not-so-subtle jibe at the Maryland Constitution’s requirement that jurists retire upon hitting that magic age.

Shortly after beginning Tuesday’s session at 10 a.m., Bell heaped praise on Raker, saying she has “served this court with distinction,” noting her “strong intellect” and thanking her for placing great importance on “civility” among the judges and the attorneys who appear before them.

Then the chief judge delivered the kicker: “The Constitution regards her as senile.”

Raker will join Judge Dale R. Cathell as Court of Appeals judges who have reached age 70 but remain on the top court until a successor is appointed.

Cathell, noting that they are similarly situated, said he welcomes the fact that Raker “joins me in senility.”

STEVE LASH, Legal Affairs Writer