Hawaii: constitutional amendment allowing retired judges to come back into temporary service that narrowly lost in 2012 back up for debate

A plan to let the Hawaii Chief Justice recall retired judges back into service that failed at the ballot box in 2012 is up for a new hearing today.

First, some background.

Hawaii’s been voting on and debating the subject of what to do about mandatory judicial retirement for the better part of a decade. In 2006 and 2012 the voters declined to make changes to their existing system, and in November 2014 they’ll be voting again to increase the age from 70 to 80.

Of these, the 2012 vote stands out. That proposal, discussed here would have kept the mandatory judicial retirement age but let the chief justice recall judges forced out due to it back into service for up to 3 months at a time. Hawaii Amendment 2 of 2012 failed, not because an absolute majority voted against it, but because 10.4% of voters did not even vote on it at all, effectively casting “no” votes under a provision that required “a majority of all the votes tallied upon the question, this majority constituting at least fifty per cent of the total vote cast at the election.”

HB 275 of 2014 is effectively identical to the item rejected in 2014, it does clarify and specify that the recall provision would apply to all “judges and justices” and drops the phrase referencing retirement at “seventy years of age” because that clause may be amended up to 80 in November of this year.

HB 275 was approved unanimously by the House on February 28 of 2013 and carried over into the 2014 session.