Ohio Voters Reject Amendment to Raise Judicial Retirement Age
Simmons, Ric, Judicature
Under current law, Ohio judges who reach the age of seventy may serve out the remainder of their six-year term but are prohibited from running for another term. In November, voters in Ohio rejected by a 62-32 percent margin a proposal to raise this age to 75, The proposed change was voted down in every county in Ohio.
The proposed amendment, known as Issue 1, had principled supporters on both sides, Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor appeared in advertisements supporting the measure. The Ohio State Bar Association endorsed the measure, arguing that "life expectancy has changed, and expectations of life in the work force have changed." Supporters also argued that the current law deprived Ohio of experienced judges, and that a judge with failing mental faculties could be removed through judicial disciplinary proceedings on a case-by-case basis. But the County Prosecutor's Association opposed the measure, stating that "many prosecutors have practiced before older judges who should not have been serving," and arguing that most attorneys would not be willing to initiate disciplinary proceedings against a judge before whom they may still have to appear.
But it seems likely that the vote was driven by politics rather than the potential merits or drawbacks of the proposal. The Ohio Democratic Party urged Ohio voters to vote "No" on the proposed amendment and they were blatantly political in their reasoning, explaining that "...Issue 1 is likely to perpetuate a 6-to-l Republican imbalance on the Ohio Supreme Court and similar imbalances on lower courts." The Republicans, for their part, made no recommendation on the measure. …