2023 sees high percentage of mandatory state supreme court retirements, continuing 2022 trend

Photo of Colorado State Supreme Court building

In 2022 and the first half of 2023, there was been an uptick in the percentage of mandatory retirements in state supreme courts. From 2019 to 2021, about one in every four retirements were mandated, while the remaining were voluntary. In 2022, there was an increase in the proportion of mandatory retirements, with about one in three retirements mandated. Halfway through the year, 2023 has had an equal amount of mandatory and voluntary retirements, which makes it the first year to have an even split since 2019.

There have been a total of 103 state supreme court justice vacancies since 2019. Of these vacancies, 89 have been caused by a justice’s retirement from the court. Seven justices have been elevated to a federal court, four have died while holding office, two have ascended into the chief justice position, and one was not retained in a regularly scheduled election.

Of the 89 retirements, most were caused by the justice voluntarily vacating their seat. Justices in 31 states are required to retire their seats by the time they hit the state’s mandatory retirement age; the remaining 19 states have no such requirement.

Additional reading: