Louisiana Mandatory Judicial Retirement Age, Amendment 5 (2014)

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Amendment 5
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Constitution:Constitutional amendment
Referred by:Louisiana State Legislature
Topic:State judiciary
Status:Defeated Defeatedd
2014 measures
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November 4
Amendment 1 Approveda
Amendment 2 Approveda
Amendment 3 Defeatedd
Amendment 4 Defeatedd
Amendment 5 Defeatedd
Amendment 6 Approveda
Amendment 7 Approveda
Amendment 8 Approveda
Amendment 9 Defeatedd
Amendment 10 Approveda
Amendment 11 Defeatedd
Amendment 12 Defeatedd
Amendment 13 Defeatedd
Amendment 14 Defeatedd
Endorsements

The Louisiana Mandatory Judicial Retirement Age, Amendment 5 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Louisiana as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have eliminated all mandatory age-based retirement requirements for state judges.[1]

The proposed amendment was introduced into the Louisiana Legislature by State Representative John Bel Edwards (D-72) as House Bill 96.

Election results

Louisiana Amendment 5
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No783,40258.19%
Yes 562,780 41.81%

Election results via: Louisiana Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The proposed ballot text read as follows:[1]

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)[2]

Constitutional changes

See also: Article V, Louisiana Constitution

The proposed amendment would have amended Section 23 of Article V of the Constitution of Louisiana:[1]

§23. Judges; Retirement

Section 23. (A) Retirement System. Within two years after the effective date of this constitution, the legislature shall provide for a retirement system for judges which shall apply to a judge taking office after the effective date of the law enacting the system and in which a judge in office at that time may elect to become a member, with credit for all prior years of judicial service and without contribution therefor. The retirement benefits and judicial service rights of a judge in office or retired on the effective date of this constitution shall not be diminished, nor shall the benefits to which a surviving spouse is entitled be reduced.

(B) Mandatory Retirement. Except as otherwise provided in this Section, a judge shall not remain in office beyond his seventieth birthday. A judge who attains seventy years of age while serving a term of office shall be allowed to complete that term of office.[2]


Support

A full list of legislators by how they voted on the amendment can be found here.

Arguments

The Public Affairs Research Council provided arguments for and against the constitutional amendment. The following was the council's argument in support:

Proponents of the amendment say the current law is “unreasonable age discrimination.” Voters should decide who serves as judges and whether age is a consideration. Judgeships are the only elected position in Louisiana with a mandatory retirement age. Someone 70 or over can sit on a jury or work in any other profession. Older judges have great experience to rule on cases. The current law sends good and capable judges into retirement. The state retirement systems will save money under this amendment because sitting judges would not be able to draw retirement benefits as long as they continue to serve in office. As for judges who are no longer capable of serving, a system currently in place can remove them and that system would remain in place even if this amendment passes.

[2]

—Public Affairs Research Council[3]

Opposition

A full list of legislators by how they voted on the amendment can be found here.

Arguments

The Public Affairs Research Council provided arguments for and against the constitutional amendment. The following was the council's argument against:

In their vital societal role deciding people’s fortunes, judges should be fully alert and capable of performing their work in a manner that instills the public’s confidence in the judicial system. An age limit helps ensure this standard. Also, illness can delay justice or shift caseloads to other judges. Although no other elected offices in Louisiana have age limits, many of those offices have term limits. Eliminating the mandatory retirement age would essentially remove term limits for elected judges, who typically receive campaign support from the legal community and are routinely re- elected. Judges already have relatively long terms of office. Without a retirement age, judges can become “untouchable,” especially in smaller communities. Many voters don’t really know or get a chance to interact with their judges, and the only groups usually interested in judgeship elections are the attorneys and the judges themselves. As a result, it becomes almost impossible to beat a sitting judge. The issue of whether a mandatory retirement age for judges is “age discrimination” is highly debatable and court rulings have drawn varied conclusions.

[2]

—Public Affairs Research Council[3]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Louisiana Constitution

A two-thirds majority vote was required in the Louisiana Legislature in order to place the constitutional amendment on the ballot. HB 96 was approved by the Louisiana House on April 28, 2014.[4] The bill was approved by the Louisiana Senate on May 28, 2014.[5] The measure was enrolled on May 29, 2014.[6]

House vote

April 28, 2014 House vote

Louisiana HB 96 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 73 79.35%
No1920.65%

Senate vote

May 28, 2014 Senate vote

Louisiana HB 96 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 32 88.89%
No411.11%

See also

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External links

References