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Mandatory Retirement

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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 courts

Federal 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.[1]
Judgepedia:WikiProject Terms and Definitions

State courts

Mandatory retirement ages by state

State Mandatory retirement age Additional information
Alabama 70[2]
Alaska 70[3]
Arizona 70[4][5]
Arkansas - No retirement age; however, judges lose their earned retirement benefits if they choose to seek re-election past age 70.[6]
California - No retirement age
Colorado 72[7]
Connecticut 70[8]
Delaware - No retirement age
District of Columbia 74[9]
Florida 70[10] Judges may finish the final term if more than one-half has been served at age 70.[10]
Georgia No retirement age
Hawaii 70[11]
Idaho - No retirement age
Illinois - Used to be 75, but law was struck down by Illinois Supreme Court in 2009[12][13]
Indiana - No retirement age
Iowa 72[14]
Kansas 75[15] Judges may finish the final term during which they turn 75[15]
Kentucky - No retirement age
Louisiana 70[16] Judges may finish the final term during which they turn 70[16]
Maine - No retirement age
Maryland 70[17]
Massachusetts 70[18]
Michigan 70[19]
Minnesota 70[20] Judges must retire the last day of the month in which they have turned 70[20]
Mississippi - No retirement age
Missouri 70/75[21][22] Judges other than municipal judges must retire at 70.[21] Municipal judges must retire at 75.[22]
Montana - No retirement age
Nebraska - No retirement age
Nevada - No retirement age
New Hampshire 70[23]
New Jersey 70[24]
New Mexico - No retirement age
New York 70[25] Judges may finish out year they turn 70. There is no retirement limit for Town and Village Courts.
North Carolina 72[26] Judges must retire the last day of the month in which they have turned 72[26]
North Dakota - No retirement age
Ohio 70[27] Judges may finish the final term during which they turn 70[27]
Oklahoma - No retirement age
Oregon 75[28] Limit may be reduced to as low as 70 by statute or initiative.[28]
Pennsylvania 70[29] Judges may finish out year they turn 70.[29]
Rhode Island - No retirement age[30]
South Carolina 72[31] No limit for Probate or Municipal Court judges.[31]
South Dakota 70[32]
Tennessee - No retirement age
Texas 75[33] Conditions may vary. See Article 5 for more information[33]
Utah 75[34]
Vermont 90[35]Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag;

name cannot be a simple integer. Use a descriptive title

Judges may finish out year they turn 90.[35]
Virginia 70[36] Judge will be retired 20 days after the regular session of the General Assembly following birthday.[36]
Washington 75[37] Judges may finish out year they turn 75[37]
West Virginia - No retirement age
Wisconsin Formerly 70[38][39][40] 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."[41]
Wyoming 70[42]


Court challenge

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."[43][44][45]

Passed initiatives

  • 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.[46]
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."[47]

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 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?"[48]
"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."

Failed initiatives

The ballot title was:
Increase Mandatory Age of Retirement for Judges from 70 to 75

See also

External links


  1. Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill, "Definition of a Judge"
  2. Amendment of Article VI of the Constitution of Alabama See section 6.16. Retirement
  3. Alaskan Constitution Art. IV, Sec. 11
  4. Arizona Constitution Art. VI Sec. 20
  5. Arizona Constitution Art. VI Sec. 39
  6. Arkansas Times, "Arkansas judges want age limit removed," February 6, 2013
  7. Colorado Constitution Art. VI Sec. 23
  8. Connecticut Constitution Art. V, Sec. 6
  9., "Statute: 1-204.31(c)"
  10. 10.0 10.1 Florida Constitution Art. V, Sec. 8
  11. Hawaii Constitution Art. VI, Sec. 3
  12. 705 ILCS 55/1 "Compulsory Retirement of Judges Act."
  13. ABA Journal, "Top Illinois Court Axes Mandatory Retirement Law for State Judges," June 18, 2009
  14. Chapter 602: Judicial Branch "602.1610 Mandatory retirement"
  15. 15.0 15.1 Chapter 20: CourtsArticle 26: Retirement System For Justices And Judges, "Statute: 20-2608(a)"
  16. 16.0 16.1 Louisiana Constitution Art. V, Sec. 23
  17. Maryland Constitution Art. IV, Sec. 3
  18. Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, "Chapter III: Judiciary Power - Art. 1, Part 2, Ch. 3"
  19. Michigan Constitution Art. VI, Sec. 19
  20. 20.0 20.1 Minnesota Statutes, "Statute: 490.121(21d) & 490.125,"
  21. 21.0 21.1 Missouri Constitution Art. V, Sec. 26
  22. 22.0 22.1 Missouri Revised Statutes, "Statute: 479.020(7),"
  23. New Hampshire Constitution Art. 78
  24. New Jersey Constitution Art. XI, Sec. IV
  25. New York Constitution Art. VI, Sec. 25
  26. 26.0 26.1, "Article 1B: Age Limits for Service as Justice or Judge."
  27. 27.0 27.1 Ohio Constitution Art. IV, Sec. 6
  28. 28.0 28.1 Oregon Constitution Art. VII, Sec. 1a
  29. 29.0 29.1 Pennsylvania Constitution Art. V, Sec. 16
  30. American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Rhode Island," archived October 6, 2014
  31. 31.0 31.1 South Carolina Legislature, "Title 9 - Retirement Systems"
  32. South Dakota Legislature, "Statute: 16-1-4.1"
  33. 33.0 33.1 Texas Constitution Art. 5, Sec. 1-a
  34. Utah State Legislature, "Statute: 49-18-701: Judges' mandatory retirement age."
  35. 35.0 35.1 Vermont State Legislature, "Statute: 4-609 - Judicial retirement"
  36. 36.0 36.1 Virginia State Legislature, "Statute: 51.1-305. Service retirement generally."
  37. 37.0 37.1 Washington Constitution Art. IV, Sec. 3(a)
  38. Wisconsin Retirement Age for Judges and Justices
  39. Wisconsin Constitution Art. VII, Sec. 24
  40. American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Wisconsin," archived April 11, 2011
  41. Wisconsin Blue Book 2005-2006
  42. Wyoming Constitution Art. 5, Sec. 5
  43. Pensylvania Record, "Federal judge dismisses suit by Pa. judges challenging mandatory judicial retirement age," September 25, 2013 (timed out)
  44. Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, "PA Judges Lose Federal Challenge to Mandatory Retirement," September 25, 2013
  45., "U.S. Appeals Court backs Pa. judge retirement mandate," April 29, 2014
  46. Proposition 14 language
  47. Texas Secretary of State, "Ballot Language For November 6, 2007 Constitutional Amendment"
  48. 48.0 48.1 The Wisconsin Blue Book 1977, p.870
  49. Mandatory retirement
  50. Louisiana Mandatory Judicial Retirement Age Amendment (2014)
  51. Honolulu Civil Beat, "Abercrombie: Change Retirement Age for Judges," June 5, 2012
  52. New York Mandatory Judicial Retirement Age Amendment, Proposal 6 (2013)
  53. Ohio Legislature, "H.J.R. 1," Retrieved March 10, 2011