Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Max Baer, a Democrat, died unexpectedly overnight on Friday.
The 74-year-old passed away suddenly at his home near Pittsburgh, the court announced on Saturday.
The cause of death was not released.
Mr. Baer was set to retire at the end of 2022.
“This is a tremendous loss for the court and all of Pennsylvania,” Chief Justice Todd said in a statement. “Chief Justice Baer was an influential and intellectual jurist whose unwavering focus was on administering fair and balanced justice. He was a tireless champion for children, devoted to protecting and providing for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”
Baer was replaced by Justice Debra Todd, also a Democrat.
“Justice Debra A. Todd, who like Baer is a Democrat from Western Pennsylvania, becomes the new chief justice, the first woman to lead the state Supreme Court. Of the six other justices, Todd had the longest continuous service on the court, joining it in 2008. She turns 65 later this month.” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which helped Democrat Governor Wolf override the state constitution and allow for mail-in ballots in the 2020 election, has a 5-2 Democrat majority.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:
Max Baer, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, died overnight Friday. He was 74.
Mr. Baer, first elected to the Supreme Court in 2003, was sworn in as its chief justice in 2021. He was set to retire at the end of 2022, after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75 on Dec. 24.
The state Supreme Court confirmed his death in a news release Saturday morning. A cause of death was not immediately available. Justice Debra Todd, who was set to replace Mr. Baer in January after he retired, will now serve as chief justice, the court announced. She is the first woman to lead the state’s highest court.
Max Baer graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971 and from Duquesne’s night law school program in 1975. He was scheduled to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the law school on Oct. 14.
He served as deputy attorney general for Pennsylvania from 1975 to 1980, and then moved to private practice for nine years. Mr. Baer was elected as an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge in 1989, spending most of his time in the court’s family division. He earned national recognition for his juvenile court reforms.