TALLAHASSEE — A Florida state representative filed a proposed
constitutional amendment in late January that would place term limits
on Florida Supreme Court justices.
According to a report
by News4Jax, the proposal — made by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount
Dora, on Jan. 25 — also includes appeals-court judges and would
prevent the parties from going on the ballot if they have already
served 12 years in their current positions. The proposal is known as
House Joint Resolution 1.
“No government job should be for life,” Sullivan told the
Florida Record. “When lifespans were 50-60, it may have made
sense, but if you occupy an office for 40 years it's clear that a
mindset develops where one believes themselves to be bigger than the
office they hold or more important to government than they are, and
If the proposal is approved by the Legislature, voters will decide
on the measure in 2018, according to News4Jax.
Currently, Florida does not limit a judge’s number of times they
can be placed on a ballot, but they do have a mandatory retirement
age of 70, give or take a few years depending on the judge or
“The HJR does not change the retirement age,” Sullivan said.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, has been
pushing the issue, as previously reported
by the Florida Record. Other representatives have proposed
alternatives as well. Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, filed
a proposal — SJR 482 — would hold Supreme Court justices to two
full six-year terms, while appellate judges in district courts would
be limited to three terms.
“There is always room for compromise,” Sullivan said. “I
think the House would have to be shown how 18 years as a (District
Court of Appeal) judge, then possibly 12 as a (Supreme Court) justice
didn't create a de facto lifetime spot on the bench.”
Sullivan explains that the current law does not require justices
to be of a certain age, but Hudson is proposing that lawyers would
have to be a minimum of 50 years of age to serve on the Supreme Court
or court of appeals.
“Current law does not propose a minimum,” Sullivan said.
The issue of age restrictions isn’t a new conversation. Many
publications — including The Atlantic — have written about the
age of the U.S. Supreme Court justices. “Life tenure is too long
for Supreme Court justices” was the title of a June 2005 article
by The Atlantic. Slate wrote a similar article
in 2013, stating the same argument.
Sullivan represents Florida's 31st District, which includes most
of Northern Lake and Orange counties. She is the youngest woman to
ever be voted into the house, when she won the seat in 2014 at the
age of 23, according to Orlando
Sentinel. She recently won her re-election against no-party
affiliate Robert Rightmyer, winning with 73.2 percent of the vote
according to the New