(Host) Legislation increasing the mandatory retirement age for state judges is on its way to Governor Jim Douglas for his signature. The issue was debated by the General Assembly because last fall voters gave their approval to a proposed constitutional amendment allowing lawmakers to set a judicial retirement age. Previously the Vermont Constitution required all judges to step down from the bench at the age of 70.
The House didn’t want to set a retirement age at all. It passed a bill that would let judges remain in office as long as the individual wanted to. However the Senate established 80 years as the best retirement age. The compromise that emerged from the conference committee establishes 90 years as the age when all judges must retire.
House Government Operations Chairman Cola Hudson (R-Lyndon) didn’t want to set a retirement age but he reluctantly accepted the compromise:
(Hudson) “I personally made a statement to the joint conference committee that I was very displeased at any age, because 90 or 150 is still a figure in age discrimination, in my view. But we did compromise and it seems like a reasonable compromise.”
(Host) Hudson says voters can revisit this issue in the future, through the process to amend the constitution, if they decide that they don’t like the new compromise plan.