Judicial elections, democratic appointment (e.g., senate confirmation), and the Missouri Plan (a/k/a "merit selection")

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Wisconsin Judicial Retirement Age and Supreme Court Ideology

In 1977, Wisconsin voters amended the state constitution directing the Legislature to set a mandatory judicial retirement age no earlier than age 70. The Legislature has not in fact done that.  But now at requirement was never acted on.  But now State Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, said he plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session setting the mandatory retirement age at 75.

“Thirty-three states have mandatory retirements between the ages of 70 and 75,” Knudson said. “Vermont is the highest with an age of 90.”

If passed by the Republican-run Legislature next year, all judges — except reserve or temporary judges — who are over 75 years old would have to retire immediately or within a matter of months.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, "Such legislation would give Republican Gov. Scott Walker numerous opportunities to appoint judges to his liking to fill unexpired terms of judges and justices hitting the mandatory retirement age," including three state Supreme Court justices: Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, 81, Justice Pat Roggensack, 74, and Justice N. Patrick Crooks, 76.

The Wisconsin State Journal describes Abrahamson as "part of the three-member liberal minority on the court."

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