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JUDICIAL DEPARTURES AND THE INTRODUCTION OF QUALIFIED RETIREMENT, 1892-1953*

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This study examines the effects of the 1919 introduction of qualified retirement allowing federal judges to retire rather than resign. Retired judges, unlike those who resigned, could perform judicial duties, and their retirement pay could not be diminished. Departures from the U.S. (Circuit) Courts of Appeals from 1892 to 1953 are examined to determine whether the 1919 reform altered how or why judges quit. The effects of political, personal, and institutional factors on departures are analyzed, with their influences expected to vary over time and among types of departures. Political factors are expected to be more influential from 1919 to 1953 as the retirement option made departure more attractive. Quantitative analysis reveals that retirements differed from resignations, and that personal and institutional factors were more influential than political considerations. The results indicate that judges respond to incremental reforms to their duties and benefits when they consider leaving office and, at least before 1954, did not exploit the opportunity to quit strategically. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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