10:00 AM EDT, May 22, 2013
Sen. Frank Lautenberg died Tuesday at age 89, the Senate’s oldest member. He had missed most Senate votes since late 2012 because of declining health -- but managed to make it into the Capitol to vote for Gina McCarthy as secretary of environmental protection. The online publication Businessinsider.com says Lautenberg "stuck around long after he should have retired -- because we insanely treat Senate seats like property that favored elders are entitled to hold until they die." It argued for forced retirement because "elderly senators are making laws that govern technology they are too old to understand." Is that true? Sen. Strom Thurmond served until the age of 100 and "often appeared not to participate in sessions he chaired," wrote former Wesleyan Professor Claire Potter in the New York Times. "Robert Byrd also suffered a visible decline prior to his death at 92." Do they prove that senators should have to retire at 75 or 80? Or should that be left to voters?
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