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Why Supreme Court Justices Should Not Have Term Limits

In addition, term limits would address the politicization of the Court that has taken place in recent years. Although the number of cases decided by a 5-4 majority has not increased, as some commentators have argued, public opinion towards the Court is divided. As recently as 2010, about the same percentages of Republicans and Democrats said they had a positive opinion of the Supreme Court. Today, Republican support is 26 points higher than Democrats. As Noted by Supreme Court justices and many jurists, this state of affairs has resulted in each individual judge having more power over American life than any other branch of government.5 For example, members of Congress are, on average, younger than current members of the Supreme Court, and any judge appointed before Judge Sonia Sotomayor has been in office longer than the average senator.6 And, of course, the President`s term is limited by law. The imposition of term limits on Supreme Court judges threatens their independence. This is in stark contrast to Supreme Court justices, who have no enforceable ethical restrictions. Judges also make their own decisions about resigning due to a possible conflict, while several state courts prevent judges who have been asked to step down from making the decision unilaterally. Any system of term limits should be introduced gradually. Current judges should be able to serve life sentences and, when judges leave the Court, their seats should be filled by judges who are liable to an 18-year sentence. Term limits would depoliticize the tribunal and the appointment process. Equally important for the question of how long Supreme Court justices can stay is how they are appointed.

Since the Constitution entrusts responsibility for the appointment and confirmation of federal judges to the President and the Senate, politics plays a crucial role. But the Constitution says nothing about other qualifications for the office. Groups demanding allegiance to a particular legal philosophy or ideology rushed to fill the void, leaving the process open to prioritizing selected candidates for reasons other than their judgment, behavior, and wisdom. Wallace B. Jefferson served as Presiding Judge of the Texas Supreme Court from 2004 to 2013. He was first appointed to the court by the then governor in 2001. Rick Perry The second problem is the duck that guarantees vacancies every two years will somehow reduce the political turmoil surrounding any Supreme Court confirmation. Unfortunately, it would be exactly the opposite. President Trump`s first term was irregular in many ways, including the fact that he was fortunate enough to appoint three Supreme Court justices so quickly. The solution is for Republicans and Democrats to join forces to support a constitutional amendment that sets the size of the Supreme Court among its current nine justices, each of whom would serve an 18-year non-renewable term. Terms would be staggered, so that presidents with one mandate would be guaranteed to receive two appointments; Presidents with two terms would get four.

This does not have to be the case. Congress should impose term limits on Supreme Court justices. Term limits, combined with a regular timeline, would depoliticize the appointment process, lead the Court to a less partisan future, and help restore public confidence in our democratic institutions. While well-intentioned, term limits have a problem. Not only are they unconstitutional, but they will also have exactly the opposite result that the proponents want. In addition, term limits will ensure that vacancies on the court are inextricably linked to any presidential race and risk provoking abrupt ideological changes in the Supreme Court, which only increases political control. In other words, term limits will not lower the temperature around appointments, they will leave the country burned. We both come from different sides of the political aisle, but our recent cooperation has helped us recognize the need for policies such as Supreme Court term limits to reform our democratic institutions.

We served on a commission of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which in June released a new report, Our Common Purpose, which included 31 recommendations to reinvent American democracy, including Supreme Court term limits. In conversations with Americans across the country, our committee has heard that too many people feel that their voices don`t matter, that Congress will not change, and that Washington is too absorbed in partisan infighting to meet the needs of the public. Term limits are popular because they promise what they can`t achieve – a way to depoliticize the courts. Nevertheless, we should not be deterred from lowering the political temperature around the judiciary. But we should find a better way to achieve this. A lifetime mandate is not essential for the independence of the judiciary or democratic governance. Judges` salaries are protected while they are in office, and the impeachment process sets the bar extremely high for their impeachment. And the United States is an exception among the great democracies when it comes to giving its constitutional judges power for life. This is certainly not the norm in the 49 states that set a limit on the length of judicial service – often through a mandatory retirement age or a fixed term of office. These term limits have not given rise to a wave of concern about the independence of the courts. Similarly, Article II sees the two Offices differently. Under Article II, Section 2, the President has the power to appoint «ambassadors, other ministers and public consuls, supreme court justices, and all other officials of the United States.» Federal district and district judges are referred to as «other officers.» This deliberate ramification suggests that the two «offices» of the judiciary are very different and have different constitutional roles.

Therefore, it is suspect that a judge may be compelled by law to relinquish his or her seat and occupy a lower judicial position once his or her 18-year term has expired. If that were the case, Congress could easily impeach the chief justice at any time and force him to become Denmark`s ambassador. The current process for appointing Supreme Court justices has been interrupted, and this is largely due to the way in which the length of service has distorted and politicized the system. Aha! Some proponents of term limits say. There is a workaround to this annoying constitutional obstacle. Some suggest that the description of «function» in Article III refers to any judicial function, not necessarily the Supreme Court. Once a judge`s 18-year term expires, a judge may retire or choose to continue serving in a lower federal court. .