One of, if not the, biggest issue so far in Pennsylvania’s Amendment 1 has been the ballot language. In short, Amendment 1 would raise the mandatory judicial retirement age from end-of-year-turns-70 to end-of-year-turns-75. It was to have been voted on in the spring (discussed here), however state legislators objected to the ballot language developed by the Secretary of State and had the item pulled (ballots were already printed, however, and many people did vote, but the votes didn’t count).
The original language was
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and justices of the peace (known as magisterial district judges) be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years, instead of the current requirement that they be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70?
After, the legislature came up with its own language and, after much state litigation, and baring federal litigation that is ongoing, that is the language that will appear before voters in 2 weeks. Opponents of the language argue that it is deceiving voters into thinking it creates a mandatory retirement age, rather than raising the exiting one.
The new language that will be on ballots this November reads
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges, and magisterial district judges be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years?
Given the consistent losing track record of similar efforts in other states, it raised the question of what the language in those other states looked like.
Hawaii Amendment 3 of 2014: Increase mandatory retirement age from 70 to 80 (lost 22-73% (5% not voting on item))
|Shall the mandatory retirement age for all state court justices and judges be increased from seventy to eighty years of age?
Louisiana Amendment 5 of 2014: Repeal mandatory retirement age (lost 42-58%)
|Do you support an amendment to remove the constitutional requirement that a judge retire upon attaining the age of seventy or, if his seventieth birthday occurs during his term, that he retire upon completion of that term? (Amends Article V, Section 23)
New York Proposal 6 of 2013: Increase age from 70 to 80 (lost 40-60%) NOTE: In New York, the state’s court of last resort/highest court is called the Court of Appeals and the state’s main trial court the Supreme Court.
|Increasing Age until which Certain State Judges Can Serve
The proposed amendment to the Constitution, amending sections 2 and 25 of article 6, would increase the maximum age until which certain state judges may serve as follows: (a) a Justice of the Supreme Court would be eligible for five additional two-year terms after the present retirement age of 70, instead of the three such terms currently authorized; and (b) a Judge of the Court of Appeals who reaches the age of 70 while in office would be permitted to remain in service on the Court for up to 10 years beyond the present retirement age of 70 in order to complete the term to which that Judge was appointed.
Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
Arizona Proposition 115 of 2012: Among other things, increase age from 70 to 75 (lost 27-73%)
|DESCRIPTIVE TITLE INCREASES TERM LENGTH AND RAISES THE RETIREMENT AGE FOR JUSTICES AND JUDGES; MODIFIES MEMBERSHIP OF COURT APPOINTMENT COMMISSIONS; REQUIRES ARIZONA SUPREME, APPELLATE, AND SUPERIOR COURTS TO PUBLISH DECISIONS ONLINE AND TO TRANSMIT A COPY OF JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE REVIEWS OF EACH JUDGE UP FOR RETENTION TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE.
A “yes” vote shall have the effect of (1) increasing the terms of Arizona Supreme Court justices, Appellate and Superior Court judges to eight years; (2) raising the retirement age for justices and judges from seventy to seventy-five; (3) changing membership of commissions on appellate and trial court appointments and procedures for appointing justices and judges; (4) requiring the Supreme, Appellate, and Superior courts to publish decisions online, (5) requiring the Supreme Court to send a copy of the judicial performance review of each justice and judge who is up for retention to the Legislature, and (6) allowing a joint legislative committee to meet and take testimony on justices and judges up for retention.
A “no” vote shall have the effect of keeping current constitutional law related to the courts.
Ohio Issue 1 of 2011: Increase age from 70 to 75, repeal defunct provisions of constitution (lost 38-62%)
|This proposed amendment would:
1. Increase the maximum age for assuming elected or appointed judicial office from seventy to seventy-five.
2. Eliminate the General Assembly’s authority to establish courts of conciliation.
3. Eliminate the Governor’s authority to appoint members to a Supreme Court Commission.