Voters asked to consider amending Wyoming Constitution to raise retirement age for judges to 75

Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice Kate Fox administers the oath of office to Rep. J.D. Williams in the House Chamber of the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne in Oct. 2021 (Wyoming Legislature)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — When Wyoming voters go to cast a General Election ballot this fall, they will be asked to consider an amendment to the Wyoming Constitution that would raise the retirement age for judges from age 70 to age 75.

A “yes” vote on the ballot issue would support amending the Wyoming Constitution to raise the mandatory retirement age for Wyoming Supreme Court justices and district court judges to 75. A “no” vote would support leaving the retirement age at 70.

The question will appear on General Election ballots as follows, according to the Secretary of State’s Office:

“Currently, the Wyoming Constitution requires Wyoming Supreme Court justices and district court judges to retire upon reaching the age of seventy (70). This amendment increases the mandatory retirement age of Supreme Court justices and district court judges from age seventy (70) to age seventy-five (75).”

The Wyoming Legislature passed House Joint Resolution 1 during its 2022 Budget Session calling for the proposed amendment to be placed on the ballot. The resolution was approved by the Wyoming House of Representatives on a third reading vote of 54-5 and in the Senate on a third reading vote of 20-10. Governor Mark Gordon signed the resolution on March 8.

At the start of the legislature’s budget session, Wyoming Chief Justice Kate Fox said in her “State of the Judiciary” address that the judicial branch had been struggling to retain court clerks and judges.

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Fox said that she was proud of the overall quality of judges in Wyoming but that she saw “a big problem looming,” adding that the judicial branch had been seeing fewer applicants apply to fill judicial vacancies.

“I think they are not applying because they see what a difficult and unrelenting grind that job is,” she said.

During that State of the Judiciary address, Fox did not address the topic of judge retirement age but rather called on the legislature to meet the judiciary’s budget requests to help with its staffing issues.

While some states like South Dakota, Michigan, Arizona and New York have age 70 as the mandatory retirement age for judges, other have higher retirement ages and 19 states have no mandatory retirement age for judges, according to Ballotpedia.

Absentee voting for Wyoming’s General Election will begin on Sept. 23 and run through Nov. 7. The General Election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Further information is available from the Natrona County Clerk’s Office or the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office.