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How Young Can a Federal Court Judge Be?

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 22, 2018 3:47 PM

There is no minimum age for becoming a federal judge, but should there be?

After all, good "judgment" is a quality of experience, right? And who wants a judge young enough to be your child?

President Trump does, at least in nominating a 35-year-old to be a federal judge. If confirmed, Allison Jones Rushing will be the youngest federal judge in more than 15 years.

Too Young?

Some people are not OK with it. Orin Kerr, writing for Reason, questions whether 35 is just too young.

He says "the common wisdom" is a federal judge should start around 40 years old. He is not worried about lack of experience; his biggest concern is arrogance.

"Being a judicial-restraint-oriented type myself, I worry about judges getting rather intoxicated with the judicial power," he says. "And I would guess that there is some correlation between the age a person became a judge and how tempted they are to drink enthusiastically from the tap of judicial power."

Of course, that is one guy's opinion. The real magic number is 51 -- a simple majority of the Senate.

Young v. Old

The youngest judge ever named to the U.S. Supreme Court was Joseph Story, who was confirmed in 1881 when he was 32 years old. In 2012, Judge Stephanie Rose became the youngest on the nation's federal bench.

On the other hand, some people think many federal judges are too old. Lifetime appointments can be too long -- especially when judges start to veer off the road.

Alex Kozinski, for example, was appointed to the bench at age 35. We all know how that ended.

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