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Nina Kohn Cited in Pacific Standard's Presidential Age Cap Article

Posted on Tuesday 2/26/2019
Nina A. Kohn

Should There Be an Age Cap on the President?

(Pacific Standard | Feb. 25, 2019) With the beloved Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders gearing up for another bid for the presidency in 2020, the Democratic primary field is one of the oldest in recent memory. Sanders, at 77, is five years older than President Donald Trump—the oldest person ever elected to the office except for Ronald Reagan in his second term. Two of Sanders' most viable Democratic competitors, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, are 69 and 76, respectively.

The age of many of those seeking office lends itself to a question: Is a candidate ever too old to run?

Article II of the Constitution doesn't set a maximum age for holding the office of president, instead setting a minimum age of 35 and stringent citizenship requirements as the preconditions for executive power. But the question of setting a maximum age is becoming an increasingly pressing one as the average age of presidential nominees has steadily increased over the last century. While average life expectancy has also increased among American men and women, "age is a potent risk factor for any number of diseases," as FiveThirtyEight noted during the 2016 contest, including "the incidence of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease all increase in advancing years" ...

... "Chronological age is seen as an expedient and acceptable proxy for a variety of underlying human characteristics that policymakers wish to target for public policy interventions, and age-based criteria continue to be entrenched in U.S. public policy," writes Kohn in an analysis of age-based discrimination. "For example, one must be twenty-one to consume alcohol legally and sixty-five to become eligible for general Medicare. ... Chronological age criteria employed in statutes can also dictate the ability of an individual to invoke statutory protection from employment discrimination" ...

Read the full article.