The federal judiciary was first established in 1789, but the more concerning statistic regarding the age of the federal judiciary is this: the median age of sitting federal judges is 68. But even this data point belies the severity of the issue, because federal judges are given lifetime tenure. Federal judges often remain in their seats well past the average U.S. retirement age. For example, Judge Wesley E. Brown served on the bench until he died at the ripe old age of 104. More recently, Judge Jack Weinstein served on the bench until he retired in 2020 at the age of 98. In total, approximately 66% of federal judges are 65 or older, and approximately 33% of judges are 75 or older. Perhaps the most damning statistic of all is that more than nine out of ten U.S. District Court Judges die within a year of retiring fully.
This post was originally published on the Cardozo Journal of Equal Rights and Social Justice website on February 6, 2023. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.
Verbit, Zachary, "The United States Federal Judiciary: A Perilous Gerontocracy" (2023). ERSJ Blog. 43.