Term Limit Discussion

Washington DC: United States Supreme Court

Washington DC: United States Supreme Court (Photo credit: wallyg)

Political Science 102 – The Constitution and Rights of Americans (Fall 2009)

Term Limit Discussion

[Students and professors, please read.]

I am in favor of a constitutional amendment which would place term limits on a federal Supreme Court Justice, as well as a mandatory retirement age.  I think the term limit to serve on the Supreme Court should be the same term limit presidents are held to.  Any argument against such term limits applies equally to presidents, but we see the benefits outweigh those arguments (benefits which also apply to Supreme Court Justices).  The Supreme Court is very powerful and needs more democratic checks.  Their lifetime job security takes away needed accountability.  The Justices hold on to their power longer than they should, often until they are no longer physically or mentally capable of performing their duties (resulting in less cases decided than there used to be), often waiting to retire until a president they favor is in office, to appoint their replacement.  Because so much is at stake, such replacements become a big ordeal, bigger than they should be, as seen in what Justice Sotomayor recently had to go through.  One article I read mentioned that when a Justice serves for a lifetime, there is more incentive to appoint a younger, less tested, candidate, since it would mean they (and their shared perspective) would enjoy many years on the Court.  I’m not sure if that is necessarily a worthy argument (youth brings fresh perspective).  Even so, I think term limits are a great idea.

Maryann Spikes

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