Term Limits for SCOTUS Justices

I saw a headline today saying 2/3 of Americans are now in favor of term limits for Supreme Court Justices. I had to ponder that a bit to determine how I felt about it. I decided I might be in favor if the one term was sufficiently long enough to potentially span more than one presidential administration. 10-year terms should do the trick.

In theory, each party would then get roughly the same number of “bites at the apple” over an extended period, hopefully keeping the Court more centrally situated in ideology. Big sweeping changes like the recent overturn of the concept of an implied right to privacy would be less rare because the justices who would be tempted to implement such things would know it would be undone within the decade or so, hopefully dampening such desires.

Then we could all turn our focus back to such principles as case law and precedence. What a novel idea.

Of course, I am always willing to listen to the other side of the coin, if anyone would like to offer one.

3 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnInDenver says:

    One specific proposal I've seen:  "scheduled" terms of 18 years, with one Justice going off every 2 years (years 2 & 4 of a President's term). 

    Immediate outcry — a two-term President would name 4 Justices!!

    The better combo:  expanding the court to 13 – one Justice for each circuit. Then have staggered terms.  A two-term President still gets to name 4, but that is less than 1/3rd of the court.

    Nuances I liked:  (1) at the end of the term, Justices can take "senior status" on any circuit court they want, giving them "lifetime tenure" — just not lifetime tenure at a particular court.  (2) The Court procedure will STILL have 9 Justices assigned to each case, allowing more robust recusal requirements and uncertainty about the "balance" of the Court on any particular case. That rotation would also allow more cases to come to the Court without excessively burdening the Justice and clerks. 

    The devil in the details — what happens when a Justice retires or dies before the term is up?


    • Dano says:

      I just a news article about this very plan being introduced into the House. Seems overly and needlessly complicated with lots of details for the devil to hide in.

  2. notaskinnycook says:

     SCOTUS wasn't the only one left short-handed. President Biden has appointed 61 federal judges of various levels, The most since Reagan's first year. I actually like the idea of expanding the Court to 13. One Justice for each Circuit makes sense. It might also, not to left-leaning folks, sorrow, teach Republicans not to steal judicial seats. The Court has expanded and contracted several times over the centuries. Here's a little history on the topic:  https://harvardlpr.com/2019/05/06/the-supreme-court-has-been-expanded-many-times-before-here-are-four-ways-to-do-it-today/ 

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