A bill working its way through the statehouse would let more "senior judges" stay on the job longer. Senior judges work part-time after they retire from a full-time post on the bench, but under current law those senior judges must hang up their robes when they reach the age of 78. Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids who’s an attorney, is among those backing a bill that would raise that retirement age to 80.
"I know a number of the judges, obviously I think many of them are able to continue to work beyond retirement age. Some of aren’t as able, so we’re creating a system where the court is authorized to (allow senior judges to work ’til age 80) if the court chooses to do that," Hogg says.
Hogg sees the value of experience. "There’s a senior partner at the firm where I work and he’s 94 years old, still comes in the office occasionally," Hogg says. "There’s a lot of experience there, a lot of wisdom."
The retirement age for judges in Iowa is 72. Thirty-three judges who’ve passed that milestone have signed up to be a "senior judge." Senior judges work at least 13 weeks a year, filling the gap when full-time judges go on vacation or there’s a vacancy on the bench.
Jurists on the nation’s highest court often work into their 80s. Four of the nine current members of the U.S. Supreme Court are over the age of 70. Justice John Paul Stephens is 87. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 75. Antonin Scalia is 72 and Anthony Kennedy is 71. Chief Justice John Roberts is the youngest member of the court. He’s 53.