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Constitutional Law Experts Endorse Democrats' Bill to Create 18-Year Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/10/23/constitutional-law-experts-endorse-democrats-bill-create-18-year-term-limits-supreme


Great idea, aside from the blatant politicization going on, having term limits would help prevent the justices from being on so long they are anachronisms.

While we’re at it term limits for Senators and representatives are a glaring necessity. Shall I mention several bad examples informing that idea: Mitch McConnell, Strom Thurmond, Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein.

If you look at the history of decisions by the Supremes they tend to be more influenced by the times than the law.


That 18-year time frame for justices should be more like an 18-month term. Possibly to be chosen by lottery rather than presidential nomination—but one change at a time even if only in the imagination. The powers that be will have a choking fit just limiting the life-term.


The next step in reigning in abuses by the Executive Branch should be to limit the Presidunce’s pardon power to mak­ing RECOMMENDATIONS to the House (or Senate?), which would then require 2/3, or at least 60%, approval before being granted.  The Presidunce’s ability to remove any Cabinet officials, once approved, should be likewise limited to making recommendations, which in most cases should require at least 60% approval and, in the case of the Attorney General and other DOJ officials, and ANY Inspectors General, at least 2/3 concurrence by the Senate.


But then Biden’s buddy Clarence would have to go. I doubt if Joe will go along.


This could be dangerously unstable. Every presidential term gets two appointments. If one party has a 3 term streak, they’ve got at least a 6-3 majority, potentially a 9 member rout depending on who ruled the roost when.

After that, you could go a long ways with an unbalanced court too, if the controlling party just swaps even on presidential terms for a while.

After a while the other party might go on a streak and…

In addition, this simply puts court appointments in constant play as a politic lever.

I give it a thumbs down.


“This could unstable things. A presidential term gets two appointments. If one party has a 3 term streak, they’ve got at least a 6-3 majority, potentially a 9 member rout depending on who ruled the roost when. You could go a long way with an unbalanced court, if the controlling party swaps even on presidential terms for a while and simply places court appointments in constant play as a political lever. I give it a thumbs down.”
I hope this edit made your point more poignant. But I’m no fan of Rocky Mtn Inst idea of “driverless” robotaxi cars everwhere, no way, you’re crazee, give me a break. Ha Ha Hello robolimo? Yes? Come pick me up, okay? Forget it you stink and I know where you want to go and won’t take you there. Walk there dude if you can.

We’re trying to govern a country using a 200+ year old system that was written to deal with slave ownership, private property as being the only qualification for a white male to be able to vote, and the Electoral College as a means to prevent majority rule. Plus, the country was a wee thing, a tiny strip along the Atlantic Coast, extending from the ocean to the mountains, and ending at Florida.
So much has changed in the past 200+ years along with the technology and pace of life just in the past 20 years. We now have a Donor Class that basically tells state governments what to do. We’ve always had sectionalism threatening to tear us apart and upset the system of checks and balances. That should have told sane minds changes were needed. But too much money was being made by a small group of oligarchs that continues to the present time.
I do think term limits are a good thing for SCOTUS. And not 18 years. I’m thinking 6 years, to balance with a senator’s term. And an impartial panel should be the ones to vet a potential judge.
Democracy is indeed in chains and has always been in chains. And the US has been at war with someone for 95% of its existence. That, too, must end. Lots of issues, lots of problems.


I don’t find your argument convincing. All this idea does is keep things regularly timed as it takes out the “who knows how long any one person will live” out of the equation (once the current members are out - since they can’t lose their life term). There can’t be anything inherently more “unstable” about this than the current system and I can easily make an example with the current system which has the same asymmetry.

I support this idea as I would 12 year terms (3 appointments per presidential term - take the first year off and then one per year). It certainly doesn’t solve the problem, and we need less political judges in general (I have no idea how to make that happen) and we need the Supreme Court to have LESS power in terms of invalidating laws (i.e., I’m with Samuel Moyn on this topic completely).

From the article (not related to RockyMoutainView’s statement):

Though the bill is not perfect, […]

That’s a weird thing to say for a bunch of lawyers. What does that mean exactly? Does a perfect bill exist on this topic? If so what is it?


I’ll drink to it.

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The problem with Khanna’s bill (unless they changed it) is that it grandfathers the current SCOTUS justices in - they all don’t have term limits.

The 18-year terms need to apply to all justices, with some kind of transition to get all of them into the same format.


Get them into the same by simply retiring the current judges who have been in place longer than 18 years which includes Thomas and Breyer and will soon include Alito and Roberts.


A better reform than a lengthy18 year term in my opinion would be to let voters decide whether judges should be retained every four years during the general election. This is done at the state level (at least in my state) so I don’t see why it couldn’t be done at the national level.

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It’s about time those justices have term limits; 10 years would be better.

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Times have changed. There is no such thing as an impartial panel. Name one person who is impartial - impossible; Name one Senator who is impartial - impossible. If anyone refuses to agree with someone’s opinion, they are painted as the enemy. No one on the loosing side will ever accept the winners decision, unless forced to.

I agree with Gordon - Stand for election, maybe on a staggered 8-year frequency - no appointments except in the case of death.

I also agree with Gordon, and have stated it before. Eight years and be on the same ballot as president. Appointments on the other hand are apparently something else we can’t have without abusing. We American humans are not to be trusted.

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I would oppose 18 year terms. I might be persuaded to agree with a single 9 month term, but really am seeing less and less of a good reason for the existence of a Federal Supreme Court as a standing body institution.

Why could we not have a Supreme Court panel of Justices with equal numbers of justices appointed by the Speaker of the House and the House Minority Leader at the end of the first month of each calendar year. That panel will hear and rule on cases for 9 months after they have cleared House review and determinations of case-by-case conflicts of interest forced recusals have been established based upon the current term case docket. Justices who have conflicts of interest in any accepted cases, will remove themselves from from those cases and be ineligible to service as Chief justice for those cases. Chief justice will rotate with each new case being heard, and be selected from among the panel of Justices seated for that term of the court (the idea being that each Panel Justice should rotate into the Chief Justice Chair a few times during each Panel term. The chief justice will manage the hearings and deliberations of the court, but will only have a vote on any given case in the event of a tied decision. Justices may only serve one term per decade.

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REQUIRING by a LAW, not just a Senate rule, that a 2/3 majority of the Senate approve a nominee before he or she replaces the one whose term has expired (who would remain on the bench 'til replaced) would at least minimize the number of extremists appointed since it’s very unusual for one side of the Duopoly to hold more than sixty percent of the Senate.  Of course they’ll continue to be mostly, if not entirely, pro-Korporate – but at least there won’t be as many really wacko funny-dementalists like Barrett and Kavanaugh.

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It’s better than lifetime – that is, when you get someone like Thomas, Kavanaugh
or Barrett – Roberts –

Our problems are really with fascists appointing those they’re confident they have
something on and can control – and acting for Elites –

Electing them as long as “Corporations United” stands would also turn it into one
more example of Elites “buying” judges.

I’d prefer shorter terms – but it’s really quality we’re talking about and the only way to
solve that is to improve the quality of the people we elect –

I think something also has to be done with the number of votes –
We have a situation right now where entire DP is refusing to provide a quorum –
Worldwide would be interesting to see how this is done – and how it is done in our
states – where I don’t think they are all the same.

Supreme Court nominees, after being selected by the president must be approved by a simple majority vote ( 51 votes ) of the Senate. Under Article II of the Constitution, the President of the United States alone is empowered to nominate Supreme Court Justices and the U.S. Senate is required to confirm those nominations.

We want members to consider this “work” for the country – not something political –
and their “works” should make sense to the public – the will of the public should be the
way to go with the Supreme Court, as well – but keep in mind, until the internet and
maybe Noam Chomsky, citizens here were prevented from knowing that this was a liberal
nation – and with the way our SC has failed to act against the violent activity of the anti-abortionists – and because our press have given them undue attention based on their numbers … you would be hard pressed to realize that they are a tiny majority of the nation – and ruled by their personal religious beliefs.

I think they should be elected for a limited term – maybe 4 years – and then if they get a vote
of “Confidence” from the public they get another 4 years and so on. There should also be a
NO CONFIDENCE vote for members who should be removed. And that could come at any time their work was considered unsatisfactory. Also legal authorities must be consulted – not what we have now with Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society supplies names for Trump.
There should be a list at all times – and the public should be familiar with it and their qualifications and work and thinking.

Good government requires vigilance – and we can see the problem when new generations
didn’t understand the NEW DEAL and what they had and failed to protect it –

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