Hawaii Mandatory Judicial Retirement Age Amendment: State has had mandatory retirement age since statehood

When the issue came up last year in New York, I looked at the history of mandatory judicial retirement age in the state. Today, I’ll be looking at Hawaii.

From 1898 to 1959, Hawaii was an organized incorporated territory of the United States. Neither the 1894 Republic of Hawaii Constitution nor the Congress-approved Organic Act of 1900 for the Territory of Hawaii included a mandatory judicial retirement age. The first iteration of a mandatory judicial retirement age came as part of the 1950 constitutional convention that adopted a new constitution, effective with statehood in 1959 (Art V., Sec. 3)

They [justice of the supreme court or judge of a circuit court] shall be retired upon attaining the age of seventy years.

The 1968 constitutional convention kept the same provision (Art. V, Sec. 3)

They [justice of the supreme court or judge of a circuit court] shall be retired upon attaining the age of seventy years.

Moreover, it does not appear that at the 1978 constitutional convention which overhauled many aspects of the judiciary article changes to the retirement age provision were discussed. The final provision, still operative today, read essentially the same as in 1950 (Art. VI, Sec. 3)

They [justices and judges of the supreme Court, intermediate appellate court, circuit courts and district courts] shall be retired upon attaining the age of seventy years.