Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=886711
 
 

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Are Senior Judges Unconstitutional?


David R. Stras


Minnesota Supreme Court

Ryan W. Scott


Indiana University Maurer School of Law


Cornell Law Review, Vol. 92, 2007
Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-10

Abstract:     
With burgeoning caseloads and persistent vacancies in many federal courts, senior judges play a vital role in the continued well-being of our federal judiciary. Despite the importance of their participation in the judicial process, however, senior judges raise a host of constitutional concerns that have escaped the notice of scholars and courts. Many of the problems originate with recent changes to the statute authorizing federal judges to elect senior status, including a 1989 law that permits senior judges to fulfill their statutory responsibilities by performing entirely nonjudicial work. Others arise from the ambiguity of the statutory scheme itself, which seems to suggest that senior status represents a separate constitutional office, requiring reappointment, even though senior judges nominally retain judicial office under federal law.

In the first scholarly article addressing the constitutionality of senior judges, the authors examine two general constitutional objections: (1) whether the requirement that senior judges be designated and assigned by another federal judge before performing any judicial work violates the tenure protection of Article III; and (2) whether allowing judges to elect senior status, without a second intervening appointment, violates the Appointments Clause. They also examine whether two specific types of senior judges - the bureaucratic senior judge who performs only administrative duties and the itinerant senior judge who sits exclusively on courts outside his home district or circuit - violate the Constitution.

The authors conclude that the current statute authorizing senior judges raises serious constitutional problems that should be addressed by Congress or the Judicial Conference of the United States. In that respect, they formulate a number of straightforward suggestions to repair senior status without having to sacrifice any of the considerable benefits that senior judges have conferred on the federal judiciary over the years.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 70

Keywords: senior judges, federal courts, retirement

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K40

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Date posted: March 3, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Stras, David R. and Scott, Ryan W., Are Senior Judges Unconstitutional?. Cornell Law Review, Vol. 92, 2007; Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-10. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=886711

Contact Information

David R. Stras (Contact Author)
Minnesota Supreme Court ( email )
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
St. Paul, MN 55155
United States
Ryan W. Scott
Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )
211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
(812) 856-5941 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://info.law.indiana.edu/sb/page/normal/1555.html
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