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Pensions, Politics, and Judicial Tenure: An Empirical Study of Federal Judges, 1869--2002


  • Albert Yoon


When Article III judges conclude active service, they effectively abdicate their seat and enable the president and Senate to select a successor. Some judicial scholars have concluded that political factors--both within and across institutions--largely influence this decision. Analyzing judicial turnover, year by year, this article finds that judges have increasingly synchronized their departure from active service with qualifying for their judicial pension. By comparison, political and institutional factors appear to have little influence on turnover rates. These findings contradict much of the existing scholarship on judicial turnover and also offer more viable alternatives for judicial reform. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Albert Yoon, 2006. "Pensions, Politics, and Judicial Tenure: An Empirical Study of Federal Judges, 1869--2002," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 143-180.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:8:y:2006:i:1:p:143-180

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Sclerotization of the Judiciary: Judicial Exits from the U.S. Courts of Appeals are Politically Motivated," TSE Working Papers 16-721, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Feb 2017.
    2. Martín-Román, Ángel & Moral, Alfonso & Martínez-Matute, Marta, 2015. "Peer effects in judicial decisions: Evidence from Spanish labour courts," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 20-37.
    3. Ross Stolzenberg, 2011. "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night: The Effect of Retirement on Subsequent Mortality of U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 1801–2006," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(4), pages 1317-1346, November.
    4. Claire Lim, 2009. "Turnover and Accountability of Appointed and Elected Judges," 2009 Meeting Papers 190, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Christensen, Robert K. & Szmer, John, 2012. "Examining the efficiency of the U.S. courts of appeals: Pathologies and prescriptions," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 30-37.
    6. repec:gig:joupla:v:4:y:2012:i:2:p:39-62 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Romain Espinosa & Claudine Desrieux & Hengrui Wan, 2017. "Fewer courts, less justice? Evidence from the 2008 French reform of labor courts," Post-Print halshs-01634211, HAL.

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