A plan to raise the mandatory retirement age for judges in Pennsylvania is moving toward the next step on the long path to changing the state constitution.

State judges are forced into retirement at the age of 70 -- with a few exceptions for those who are younger than 78 and want to keep serving on a per-diem basis.

A plan that's passed the House would hike judges' mandatory retirement age from 70 to 75 years. It's poised for a Senate vote.

Sen. Daylin Leach has pointed out the U.S. Supreme Court has been doing just fine without a mandatory retirement age.

"You know, if you're 70 years old, you're sort of one of the youngsters on the court," said Leach, D-Montgomery. "There's no rational reason that we should be kicking people to the curb."

The same tension was noted by a federal judge -- facing no mandatory retirement -- who threw out a challenge to the age limit for state judges last month.

The judge said because the rule is written into the state constitution, it will have to be changed by state lawmakers.

If passed by the full Senate, the amendment must be approved again by the Legislature next session and by voters in a referendum.