Of the three losing ballot items affecting the courts last night, two were directly related to judicial retirement ages.
Hawaii: third rejection in 8 years
Hawaii Amendment 3, an effort to increase the mandatory judicial retirement age from 70 to 80, was defeated with only 22% of the yes vote, one of the most lopsided loses of any election last night. This is on top of losses in 2006 (eliminate the mandatory retirement age) and in 2012 (keep the mandatory retirement age, let chief justice call judges back for 3 months at a time) discussed and detailed here.
Louisiana: 1 for 3 in last two decades; only victory in an off year election
Louisiana Amendment 5 would have eliminated outright the state’s currently mandatory judicial retirement age (end of term in which a judge reaches 70). This is the third attempt to change the retirement age since 1995 when Amendment 2 of that year (increase age from 70 to 75) was defeated with only 38% of the vote. The next attempt at a change was in 2003. Rather than changing the retire-at-70 provision that had been in the state constitution, Amendment 15 of 2003 adopted the current practice of letting judges finish out the term in which they reach 70. That change was approved with 53.35 of the vote
Nationwide: Efforts to change or modify judicial retirement ages 1-for-8 in the last decade
Since 2004, there have been eight attempts to extend, modify, or alter the mandatory retirement ages for judges and, aside from Texas in 2007, they have all failed.
Details below the fold.
1) Hawaii Amendment 3 (mentioned above) would have eliminated the retirement age outright. It lost with only 34.8% of the yes vote.
2) Texas Proposition 14 allowed judges to serve out the remainder of the term in which they reach 75 provided they served at least 4 years out of their 6 year term. Thus a judge who hit 75 the first year in office must retire on his or her birthday while a judge who hit 75 in the fifth year could finish out the term. The proposal was approved 75-25%.
3) Ohio’s Issue 1 was an attempt to increase the mandatory retirement age from 70 to 75 as well as repeal some obsolete language from the state’s judiciary article. It lost 38-62%.
4) Arizona’s Proposition 115 was effectively three constitutional amendments in one. The first increased the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. The second increased to 8 years the term of office for Supreme, Court of Appeals, and Superior Court judges. The third altered numerous provisions related to the state’s merit selection system. The proposal was ultimately rejected by voters 27-73%.
5) A second item on the ballot was Hawaii’s effort, mentioned above, to let judges forced out by mandatory retirement to come back on a part time basis. It failed with 49.6% in favor, 39.9% opposed and 10.4% not voting (effectively “no” votes under Hawaii’s vote counting system).
6) New York Proposal 6 would have increased the mandatory retirement age for the state’s top appellate court (court of appeals) from 70 to age 80 and prohibited the appointment of any person over age 70 to the court of appeals. It also would have allowed judges of main trial court (supreme court) to be recertified for 2-year increments from age 70 to age 80. It was defeated 40-60%.
7) Hawaii Amendment 3
8) Louisiana Amendment 5