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The Law and Policy of Judicial Retirement: An Empirical Study

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  • Stephen J. Choi
  • Mitu Gulati
  • Eric A. Posner

Abstract

Lifetime tenure maximizes judicial independence by shielding judges from political pressures but creates problems of its own. Judges with independence may implement their political preferences. Judges may remain in office after their abilities degrade with age. The U.S. federal system addresses these problems in an indirect way. When judges' pensions vest, they receive full pay regardless of whether they work. This limits some of the harmful effects of judicial independence by encouraging judges to vacate their offices when they become old and by causing judges who find their work burdensome to leave office. We test the benefits and costs of this system for federal district judges. We find that the vesting system causes judges to retire as expected, that higher quality and wealthier judges are less sensitive to the financial incentives of the system, and that some judges appear to time retirement so that the president will appoint like-minded judges.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen J. Choi & Mitu Gulati & Eric A. Posner, 2013. "The Law and Policy of Judicial Retirement: An Empirical Study," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 111-150.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:doi:10.1086/668507
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joanna M. Shepherd, 2009. "The Influence of Retention Politics on Judges' Voting," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 169-206, January.
    2. Fogel,Robert William, 2004. "The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700–2100," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521808781, December.
    3. Fogel,Robert William, 2004. "The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700–2100," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521004886, December.
    4. Richard T. Boylan, 2004. "Do the Sentencing Guidelines Influence the Retirement Decisions of Federal Judges?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 231-253, January.
    5. Posner, Richard A., 1995. "Aging and Old Age," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226675664, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Datta, Pratik & Surya Prakash B. S. & Sane, Renuka, 2017. "Understanding Judicial Delay at the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal in India," Working Papers 17/208, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.

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