Boots & Sabers

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1631, 03 Jan 15

Mandatory Retirement for Judges?

I didn’t know this.

The judge retirement age has generated a flurry of political backlash, namely by liberal Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson who is 81.

Knudson, however, maintains that his proposal is anything but politically partisan. He said some sort of age needs to be established according to state law.

“If you go back to the 1970s the mandatory retirement age for all state employees was 70,” Knudson said. “In 1977, voters passed a constitutional amendment requiring the legislature to set a mandatory retirement age for judges in the state.”

The legislature amended the constitution taking away the age requirement for state employees, but never did set an age for retiring judges.

“The legislature in 1977 was directed and told that it ‘shall set a new age’ – that never happened. For nearly 40 years we haven’t taken any action. It’s time that we do. This is not optional.”

When the idea was floated to set a mandatory retirement age for judges, I fell for the media spin assuming that it was a slap at the elderly Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. But Knudson is absolutely right. Here it is in the state constitution:

(2) Unless assigned temporary service under subsection (3), no person may serve as a supreme court justice or judge of a court of record beyond the July 31 following the date on which such person attains that age, of not less than 70 years, which the legislature shall prescribe by law.

It does appear that the legislature has failed to fulfill its obligation to set a retirement age. As they do set one, however, they should write it in a way to allow current elected judges to serve the remainder of their terms.


1631, 03 January 2015


  1. Kevin Scheunemann

    Judges would just rule it unconstitutional anyway.

    Who cares!

    Republicans need to get to real issues, like full, across the board, school vouchers for all!

  2. Mark Maley

    Grandfathering in the current judges takes the politics out .

    Add in the difference in life expectancy from 1977 to now and that might get bipartisan support .

    Hate to respond to Kevin off subject but this one Is dear to my heart

    My dad tithed so we could go to Catholic grade schools .He had a full time Night job as a foreman at RCA records in Indianapolis and went to law school during the day. It took him 6 years to finish

    He knew he had seats at the public school but he understood that if he wanted us raised as Catholics , he would have to pay for it.
    We were broke but he figured it out

    My dad was an honorable man when it came to grade school. I paid my way thru A private Catholic HS

    If you want a private education for your kids with them learning exactly what you want them to learn, please pay for it like my dad and I did .

    PS – the Catholic part didn’t stick but I did get a full ride to college because of my good blocking Catholic teammates – so I consider it money well spent

  3. Kevin Scheunemann


    Judges, grandfathered, or not, hate having to be told they cannot practice law by an arbitrary standard. It will still be thrown out. there are good judges over 75, there are bad judges over 75. There is good judges at 35 and bad judges at 35.

    As far as school choice. I’m glad your father gave you a Christian education. But public school taxes ate up much less of people’s income back then. Today, the voluminous expense of public school taxes has put this choice out of reach for the poor, and middle class.

    If you don’t want to give parents the CHOICE to control their public school tax money with a voucher to other schools, then allow private school parents completely out of the godless public school taxing system.

    Since when do liberals oppose choice on something?

    Heck, we hand out all kinds of welfare like health care, food stamps, rent assist, cash payments, heat asst, so people can afford their drug habits, why not for parents to help re-enforce Christian values with their children?

    Or do liberals only want to assist/help someone for bad social choices?

  4. Mark Maley

    The old man was real big on Catholic education. He took is to the new public HS and said “it’s new and it’s beautiful but there”s no God there ”

    I guess he.was right .

    Public education is supposed to be Godless

    If you want a school that teaches your view of religious beliefs is superior to all others ( and after 12 years of Catholic education, I can assure you that church based schools of every persuasion do exactly that) and to keep them away form the bad behaving , special needs or low income riff raft that also are public schools, You need to pay for that

  5. Boyd McBoyd

    Good thing Google Translate has a Drunk-to-English option.

  6. Kevin Scheunemann


    We agree the public school is godless. We will probably disagree whether that is a good thing. Stripping kids of their religion at the schoolhouse door, especially their Christianity, where Christianity is usually treated with open hostility, is a very bad thing.

    Christian parents should have an inclusive option for their kids education. Most Christian parents undrstand that Christianity cannot be separated from their kids school education without dire consequences.

    As far as the point that Christian parents need to “pay for that”. That is true, however, but then do not force parents to pay for a school system, with suffocating school taxes, openly hostile to their family’s beliefs at the schoolhouse door. Let Christian parents opt out of public school tax system and allow them to direct that tax money to a thoughtful, spirit rich education, rather than a cold, valueless, godless, education. Or let them have vouchers.

    Mark, i figured you waould want to be inclusive of Chritian families when it comes to their beliefs, but it seems you only want to force Christian parents to fund, to the detriment of what they really want, a godless school system.

    That is very rigid….and not very diverse of you.

    I though you always advocated diversity.

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