North Carolina Republicans Introduce Bill To Raise Judicial Retirement Age

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Feb. 8, North Carolina Republicans introduced House Bill 71, a bill that would raise the retirement age for state judges to 76 years old. Currently, judges in North Carolina are required to retire when they reach age 72. If passed, the bill would prevent the state’s next governor from replacing the state Supreme Court’s chief justice and a judge on the court of appeals, the state’s mid-level court.

While judges in North Carolina are elected, they are required to step down once they reach the retirement age. To quickly fill the vacancy, the governor must appoint a replacement who serves until the next election. Under current law, Chief Justice Paul Newby and Court of Appeals Judge John Tyson — both Republicans — would have to retire in 2027 and 2025, respectively. Their replacements would be appointed by whoever wins the governorship in 2024, which will be an open race due to the term limits imposed on current Gov. Roy Cooper (D). H.B. 71 would push both of the judges’ retirements to 2031 and 2029, preventing the next governor from appointing replacements. For example, if Attorney General Josh Stein (D) were to win the 2024 gubernatorial election, H.B. 71 would prevent him from being able to replace the two Republican judges with Democrats.

Both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly are controlled by Republicans — however, Cooper would be able to veto H.B. 71 if it passes the legislature.

Read H.B. 71 here.