Mandatory Retirement is the compulsory retirement of judges who have reached a specific age determined by a state's constitution. There are 33 states and the District of Columbia that have set mandatory retirement ages. Set at 90 years, Vermont has the highest mandatory retirement limit.
Federal courtsFederal judges have no mandatory retirement date. They are appointed for life by the President of the United States with confirmation by the United States Senate.
Mandatory retirement ages by state
|State||Mandatory retirement age||Additional information|
|Arkansas||-||No retirement age; however, judges lose their earned retirement benefits if they choose to seek re-election past age 70.|
|California||-||No retirement age|
|Delaware||-||No retirement age|
|District of Columbia||74|
|Florida||70||Judges may finish the final term if more than one-half has been served at age 70.|
|Georgia||No retirement age|
|Idaho||-||No retirement age|
|Illinois||-||Used to be 75, but law was struck down by Illinois Supreme Court in 2009|
|Indiana||-||No retirement age|
|Kansas||75||Judges may finish the final term during which they turn 75|
|Kentucky||-||No retirement age|
|Louisiana||70||Judges may finish the final term during which they turn 70|
|Maine||-||No retirement age|
|Minnesota||70||Judges must retire the last day of the month in which they have turned 70|
|Mississippi||-||No retirement age|
|Missouri||70/75||Judges other than municipal judges must retire at 70. Municipal judges must retire at 75.|
|Montana||-||No retirement age|
|Nebraska||-||No retirement age|
|Nevada||-||No retirement age|
|New Mexico||-||No retirement age|
|New York||70||Judges may finish out year they turn 70. There is no retirement limit for Town and Village Courts.|
|North Carolina||72||Judges must retire the last day of the month in which they have turned 72|
|North Dakota||-||No retirement age|
|Ohio||70||Judges may finish the final term during which they turn 70|
|Oklahoma||-||No retirement age|
|Oregon||75||Limit may be reduced to as low as 70 by statute or initiative.|
|Pennsylvania||70||Judges may finish out year they turn 70.|
|Rhode Island||-||No retirement age|
|South Carolina||72||No limit for Probate or Municipal Court judges.|
|Tennessee||-||No retirement age|
|Texas||75||Conditions may vary. See Article 5 for more information|
|Vermont|| 90Cite error: Invalid
name cannot be a simple integer. Use a descriptive title
|Judges may finish out year they turn 90.|
|Virginia||70||Judge will be retired 20 days after the regular session of the General Assembly following birthday.|
|Washington||75||Judges may finish out year they turn 75|
|West Virginia||-||No retirement age|
|Wisconsin||Formerly 70||The Wisconsin Blue Book 2005-2006 states: "Wisconsin used to have a mandatory retirement age for judges and justices. From 1955 to 1978, judges and justices had to retire at age 70. Since 1977, the Wisconsin Constitution has authorized the legislature to impose a maximum age of no less than 70, but the legislature has not done so."|
Judges in Pennsylvania took a different approach by challenging the constitutionality of the state's mandatory retirement age, claiming it was discriminatory under the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. That challenge was dismissed, first by Judge John E. Jones, III of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, then by a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit. Both dismissals found that the arguments presented during the challenge to the law were "unconvincing."
- The Texas Proposition 14: The proposition permits a justice or judge to serve the remainder of their term despite reaching the mandatory age for retirement.
- The ballot read as follows:
- "The constitutional amendment permitting a justice or judge who reaches the mandatory retirement age while in office to serve the remainder of the justice's or judge's current term."
PBS television program, Due Process special on Mandatory Retirement
- The Vermont Retirement Age for Judges Amendment: The wording on the ballot was, "Permits the General Assembly to prescribe by law the mandatory retirement age for justices of the Supreme Court and judges of all subordinate courts, not to be less than seventy years of age."
- The Wisconsin Retirement Age for Judges Amendment: This amendment was part of 4 questions on the April 1977 ballot that sought to reform the Wisconsin court system. Question 5 specifically modified Article VII, Section 24 of the Wisconsin constitution to all the legislature to sets a mandatory retirement age for judges and justices to any age 70 or above.
- The ballot read as follows:
- "Mandatory retirement age. Shall section 24 of article VII of the constitution be amended, to authorize the legislature to set the age not less than 70 at which a justice or judge must retire?"
- The Washington Judge Retirements Amendment: The section that was added to the constitution by Amendment 25 says:
- "A judge of the supreme court or the superior court shall retire from judicial office at the end of the calendar year in which he attains the age of seventy-five years. The legislature may, from time to time, fix a lesser age for mandatory retirement, not earlier than the end of the calendar year in which any such judge attains the age of seventy years, as the legislature deems proper. This provision shall not affect the term to which any such judge shall have been elected or appointed prior to, or at the time of, approval and ratification of this provision. Notwithstanding the limitations of this section, the legislature may by general law authorize or require the retirement of judges for physical or mental disability, or any cause rendering judges incapable of performing their judicial duties."
- The New York Mandatory Judicial Retirement Age Amendment, Proposal 6 (2013) was defeated by New York State voters in the 2013 election by a vote of 58% to 42%. The measure would have raised the mandatory retirement age from 70 to 80 for all judges.
- The Ohio Judicial Office Age Amendment: appeared on the November 8, 2011 general election ballot in the state of Ohio as a Legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have raised the age of those occupying judicial office from 70 to 76. The measure was debated on during 2011 state legislative session. The measure was sent to the ballot before the end of that year's session.
- The Louisiana Increase Mandatory Age of Retirement for Judges from 70 to 75, Amendment: It was on the October 21, 1995 ballot in Louisiana. It was a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment and was defeated with 37.69% of the vote.
- The ballot title was:
- Increase Mandatory Age of Retirement for Judges from 70 to 75
- Retired Judges Report, March 2013, April 1, 2013
- Missouri Court of Appeals judge reaches mandatory retirement age, August 24, 2012
- Justice Long retires from New Jersey Supreme Court, March 5, 2012
- Legislation aimed at raising retirement age for Virginia judges dies in committee, January 31, 2012
- Gerry Alexander to leave WA Supreme Court, December 21, 2011
- Judge Gasaway steps down on 75th birthday, November 27, 2011
- Ohio Issues 1 and 2 fail, Issue 3 passes, November 10, 2011
- Judge Miller to retire from Putnam County Court, October 05, 2011
- Ohio: Mandatory retirement age for judges will be on this year's ballot, July 25, 2011
- New York considers bill to raise judicial retirement age, June 29, 2011
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pennsylvania high court rejects changing mandatory retireent for judges," June 18, 2013
- WSJ Law Blog, "Pennsylvania Judges Sue over Mandatory Retirement Provision," November 14, 2012
- The Kansas City Star, "KC residents asked to boost retirement age for judges," October 23, 2012 (dead link)
- nbc29, "Valley Judge Forced into Mandatory Retirement," March 27, 2012
- The Sun Gazette, "Del. Hope Aims to Increase Mandatory Retirement Age for Judges," January 17, 2012
- Richmond Sunlight, "HB163: Judicial retirement; increases mandatory retirement age to 73." January 11, 2012
- Palm Beach Post, "Florida judges ask to have mandatory retirement age raised," Dec. 17, 2011
- Press of Atlantic City, Editorial: "New Jersey judges/ Raise retirement age," May 28, 2012
- Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill, "Definition of a Judge"
- Amendment of Article VI of the Constitution of Alabama See section 6.16. Retirement
- Alaskan Constitution Art. IV, Sec. 11
- Arizona Constitution Art. VI Sec. 20
- Arizona Constitution Art. VI Sec. 39
- Arkansas Times, "Arkansas judges want age limit removed," February 6, 2013
- Colorado Constitution Art. VI Sec. 23
- Connecticut Constitution Art. V, Sec. 6
- michie.com, "Statute: 1-204.31(c)"
- Florida Constitution Art. V, Sec. 8
- Hawaii Constitution Art. VI, Sec. 3
- 705 ILCS 55/1 "Compulsory Retirement of Judges Act."
- ABA Journal, "Top Illinois Court Axes Mandatory Retirement Law for State Judges," June 18, 2009
- Chapter 602: Judicial Branch "602.1610 Mandatory retirement"
- Chapter 20: CourtsArticle 26: Retirement System For Justices And Judges, "Statute: 20-2608(a)"
- Louisiana Constitution Art. V, Sec. 23
- Maryland Constitution Art. IV, Sec. 3
- Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, "Chapter III: Judiciary Power - Art. 1, Part 2, Ch. 3"
- Michigan Constitution Art. VI, Sec. 19
- Minnesota Statutes, "Statute: 490.121(21d) & 490.125,"
- Missouri Constitution Art. V, Sec. 26
- Missouri Revised Statutes, "Statute: 479.020(7),"
- New Hampshire Constitution Art. 78
- New Jersey Constitution Art. XI, Sec. IV
- New York Constitution Art. VI, Sec. 25
- ncga.state.nc.us, "Article 1B: Age Limits for Service as Justice or Judge."
- Ohio Constitution Art. IV, Sec. 6
- Oregon Constitution Art. VII, Sec. 1a
- Pennsylvania Constitution Art. V, Sec. 16
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Rhode Island," archived October 6, 2014
- South Carolina Legislature, "Title 9 - Retirement Systems"
- South Dakota Legislature, "Statute: 16-1-4.1"
- Texas Constitution Art. 5, Sec. 1-a
- Utah State Legislature, "Statute: 49-18-701: Judges' mandatory retirement age."
- Vermont State Legislature, "Statute: 4-609 - Judicial retirement"
- Virginia State Legislature, "Statute: 51.1-305. Service retirement generally."
- Washington Constitution Art. IV, Sec. 3(a)
- Wisconsin Retirement Age for Judges and Justices
- Wisconsin Constitution Art. VII, Sec. 24
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Wisconsin," archived April 11, 2011
- Wisconsin Blue Book 2005-2006
- Wyoming Constitution Art. 5, Sec. 5
- Pensylvania Record, "Federal judge dismisses suit by Pa. judges challenging mandatory judicial retirement age," September 25, 2013 (timed out)
- Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, "PA Judges Lose Federal Challenge to Mandatory Retirement," September 25, 2013
- PennLive.com, "U.S. Appeals Court backs Pa. judge retirement mandate," April 29, 2014
- Proposition 14 language
- Texas Secretary of State, "Ballot Language For November 6, 2007 Constitutional Amendment"
- The Wisconsin Blue Book 1977, p.870
- New York Mandatory Judicial Retirement Age Amendment, Proposal 6 (2013)
- Ohio Legislature, "H.J.R. 1," Retrieved March 10, 2011