By William Melhado, The Texas Tribune
Nov. 7, 2023
"Texas voters reject proposal to increase judges’ retirement ages" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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Texas voters refused to increase the retirement age of judges during Tuesday’s constitutional amendment election. Proposition 13 was the only amendment on Texans’ ballots that did not pass.
The measure would have increased the mandatory retirement age for judges from 75 to 79 and would have increased the minimum retirement age from 70 to 75. Proposition 13 supporters argued that people are working later into their lives and longer-serving judges bring much needed experience to the bench.
Few groups publicly opposed the amendment and House Joint Resolution 107 passed both the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support. Authors of the legislation did not respond to requests for comment.
A House Committee Report on the resolution outlined one reason to increase the retirement ages: Given “today's longer life expectancies, 75 is no longer a reasonable age to mandate someone step down from the bench.”
But ultimately, voters did not agree. Over 60% of voters declined to increase the retirement age, according to preliminary election results.
With the amendment’s failure, some high level judges will be forced to retire in the coming years. That includes Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, who will be 75 next year.
If reelected, five other appellate court judges will turn 75 during their next term, according to the Houston Chronicle: Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann and Court of Criminal Appeals Justices Sharon Keller, Barbara Hervey, Bert Richardson and Scott Walker.
The age of elected officials is likely to be on voters' minds during next year’s presidential race that could result in another showdown between President Joe Biden, who is 80 years old, and former President Donald Trump, who is 77 years old.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/11/07/texas-judges-retirement-proposition-results/.
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