[Under the Constitution, federal judges hold office for life and their salaries may not be reduced. They may, of course, resign or, pursuant to statute, may "retire" when they reach the age of seventy or more and have served not less than ten years. Of importance to judges, when given the opportunity of retiring upon a pension, is the security of their retirement compensation. If a judge "resigns," even though upon a "pension," the Congress may later reduce or withdraw such income. If a judge is permitted to "retire," he is still technically a judge and his compensation may not be reduced or withdrawn. A "retired" judge, moreover, may continue to render essential service in special cases or at places where additional judges are necessary because of the congestion of business. Retirement privileges, which had long been available to other federal judges, were not granted the justices of the Supreme Court until 1937 during the early stages of the struggle over the President's plan for judicial reorganization.
Voluntary retirement, however, is to be distinguished from compulsory retirement. The former, as the result of acts of Congress, is now operative in the federal courts; the latter could only be achieved by constitutional amendment. As an intermediate expedient between voluntary and compulsory retirement, it was urged in the Congress in the late 1860's and, for the lower federal courts, by two of the men who served as Attorney General in the Wilson administration that an additional judge should be appointed whenever an incumbent failed to retire at a given age. A renewal of this proposal and its application to all federal courts was the controversial feature of the President's recommendations of February 5, 1937, for judicial reorganization mentioned above in Sections 7 and 11 of Part Three. Ed.]
QUITE apart from immediate consideration, and as a matter of general policy, I have often thought that much was to be said for a constitutional amendment requiring retirements when the age of seventy is reached. I am wondering if