Why Lawmakers Aren’t Talking SCOTUS Term Limits

Why Lawmakers Aren't Talking SCOTUS Term Limits
Photo Courtesy of Supremecourt.gov

(UnitedVoice.com) – When a justice gains their seat on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), it’s a lifetime appointment. Any SCOTUS judge could retire or give up their seat, but the Consitution gives them the right to hold the seat indefinitely. Many people on both sides of the political spectrum believe the position would serve America better if the government imposed a term limit on the position. However, lawmakers are reluctant to pass legislation to bring the idea to life. While the debate is nothing new, and some legislators have introduced term limit proposals, it seems very few people in politics are outspoken about the subject. The question is: Why?

Arguments About Limitation

Those for term limits argue lifetime appointments give administrations the incentive to seat partisan judges who may rule in line with their particular political skew. They claim the United States is the only country with similar democracies that give judges power for their entire lives. Some think a more reasonable amount of time would be 18 years without the possibility of reappointment. That would provide judges with the time to make an impact while giving legislators the ability to keep the highest court in the land more balanced.

In 2018, New York Times columnist Ezra Klein in an article for Vox, stated the issue is the stakes of Supreme Court nominations are too high. Suppose a judge happens to retire or die while one party is in office, allowing them to place a partisan judge on the court, packing it in their favor. He alleges it creates the opportunity for bias.

Those against term limits for SCOTUS believe the move would negatively affect the judges’ ability to stay independent and jeopardize the court’s legitimacy.

Lawmaker Hesitancy

Although legislators on both sides of the political spectrum seem to support term limits, some say Congress wouldn’t support the move. Lawmakers allege ratifying the Constitutional amendment would be nearly impossible because Republicans currently hold a Conservative majority in the Supreme Court, so it’s unlikely they’ll agree to term limits on sitting judges. However, Democrats would probably vote against any moves to limit terms for new judges because that would put them at a disadvantage.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no viable solution to the issue. While there might be support for limiting terms for SCOTUS judges, lawmakers remain without a viable legislative move capable of pleasing everyone.

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