Leaving the Bench, 1970–2009: The Choices Federal Judges Make, What Influences Those Choices, and Their Consequences

This article explores the decisions that, over four decades, lower federal court judges have made when considering leaving the bench, the influences on those decisions, and their potential consequences for the federal judiciary and society. A multi-method research strategy enabled the authors to describe more precisely than previous scholarship such matters of interest as the role that judges in senior status play in the contemporary federal judiciary, the rate at which federal judges are retiring from the bench (rather than assuming, or after assuming, senior status), and the reasons why some federal judges remain in regular active service instead of assuming senior status or retiring.

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