AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas voters resoundingly rejected a constitutional amendment Tuesday that would have allowed state judges to stay on the bench for four years longer by extending the mandatory retirement age from 75 to 79.
Proposition 13 was the only amendment Texans voted against in the election.
When it was proposed during the regular legislative session, House Joint Resolution 107 cleared both the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support and faced little and sometimes no public opposition during committee hearings.
More than 60% of voters declined to increase the retirement age, according to election results.
The amendment’s failure means Texas’ highest-ranking judge will be forced to retire within the next year. Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht will turn 75 years old next year.
Brian Smith, a politics professor at St. Edwards University, suggested that the age of public figures is top of mind for voters as they sour on the ages of the two 2024 presidential frontrunners: President Joe Biden, who is 80 years old, and former President Donald Trump, who is 77.
“When we think about what goes into voters minds, I think a lot of it had to do with what’s going on at the federal level with elderly judges and all the blowback and anger over the federal judges, and that trickled down to the states,” he said. “Also, people looked and said, ‘Why are we even doing this?'”
According to data from the Texas State Bar Association, 33% of full-time judges in Texas who are registered as licensed attorneys are over the age of 65 years. The association’s data shows the median age for those judges is 60. This does not include Texas judges not members of the state bar.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates. Capitol Correspondent Monica Madden will have a full report at 5 p.m.