Court reform craze is sweeping American politics. Rather than the political lightning rod that is court packing, we support an 18-year term limit for future Supreme Court justices. Here are the latest updates from FTC and court reform discussions around the country.
“Who Wants to Serve Forever?”: SCOTUS Term Limits Makes Headlines in Iowa
As the campaign trail heats up and voters prepare for another round of debates, Fix the Court’s view on term limits was featured prominently in Iowa Starting Line:
“Supreme Court reform is a now-widespread idea among Democrats with a variety of proposed options. Expansion has been a popular proposal with a few 2020 candidates, but limiting the amount of time justices can serve on the Supreme Court is another route that’s often touted. […]
“At the end of the day, Roth said justices retire less frequently than they used to, and term limits would reduce the chance of justices dying on the bench, serving while being mentally infirm or staying on the bench until a president they agree with is elected.
‘There are reasons to not want the same individuals serving on the Supreme Court, whether you’re left, right, center, for 30 or 40 years,’ Roth said. ‘Power in the hands of unaccountable individuals for that long is not the hallmark of a democracy, it’s the hallmark of an oligarchy.’”
As you may recall, Fix the Court recently launched the Campaign for Supreme Court Term Limits to advocate for ending life tenure and instituting term limits for future Supreme Court justices. It’s geared toward education and activism, illuminating the court’s problems and term limits’ potential for fixing them.
“I don’t know what the tipping point is going to be on this issue,” [Roth] said. “But the fact that so many Republicans talked about it in 2016 and so many Democratic candidates are talking about it in 2019 is a positive. I think it’s seen as a more realistic reform now than it had been before.”
18-Year Term Limits in USA Today
USA Today‘s Richard Wolf is out with an overview of advocacy efforts to change tenure rules at the Supreme Court, highlighting public concern over proposals that can’t achieve bipartisan support. ‘Court reform has become more of a political football than I want it to be,” Roth says. “Proposals for court-packing invite this race to the bottom.’”
The article also dives in to the term limits proposal popular among legal scholars and supported by Fix the Court:
“A less political solution for what ails the Supreme Court – aging justices, toxic confirmation battles, the taint of partisanship – may be to replace the Constitution’s promise of life tenure with term limits. Roth’s group would set the term at 18 years, so that a new justice would be named every two years. […] Either it would require a constitutional amendment or Congress would pass legislation requiring that justices retire, take “senior” status with lesser duties, or move to an appeals court.
Why Sen. Ted Kaufman Supports Term Limits
All Things Considered: former Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE) spoke with Delaware Public Media this week about why he supports term limits. Kaufman recently voiced his support for ending life tenure for justices on the Supreme Court along with over 60 other legal scholars from across the political spectrum.
“Judges have been appointed because they’re young and because they’re ideological and because they can be nominated in their 50’s and serve until their 80’s,” he said. “And they’re on the court for 30 years. That’s not a good thing.”
To read the letter and learn more about the Campaign for Supreme Court Term Limits, visit https://
Fix the Court makes the case for Term Limits in The Post
Fix the Court Executive Director Gabe Roth penned a letter in The Washington Post paying respects to Justice John Paul Stevens but noting one regrettable feature of his tenure: its 35-year length.
“Reflecting on the incredible life of former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens, Americans can learn many lessons, even on that might sound a bit indelicate: The top judges in a democracy should not be permitted to serve for more than a third of a century and have such an outsize impact on the law.
“If Stevens left the court after a reasonable amount of time — say, after 18 years, during President Bill Clinton’s first term — he could have been replaced with someone equally compelling. Unfortunately, that person never had a chance to make his or her mark; Stevens and, frankly, most justices nowadays see themselves as lifers.”
RBG + Court-Packing = Not Friends
In light of recent comments by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, new analysis from Hot Air highlighted court-packing’s favorability vs. term limits’ favorability, the latter’s being double that of the former.
“Republicans would oppose it unanimously, independents would likely oppose it on balance, and Dems would support it but with a substantial minority expressing misgivings. Result: A solid majority of the public against the idea. A Rasmussen poll from earlier this year confirmed that guesswork, in fact: As Fix The Court notes, a recent Rasmussen poll finds that only 27 percent of respondents favor adding justices to the Supreme Court — and presumably the lower courts — while 55 percent opposed. Meanwhile, in the same poll, 54 percent of respondents support a term limits proposal. Even Justice Breyer is on board with an 18-year term limit.”
Sen. Cory Booker wants a “national conversation” about term limits
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) told PBS in Iowa that he wants a “national conversation” about term limits and other proposals to fix the Supreme Court. He indicated he would be open to the option of ending life tenure for justices on the highest court, but when asked about expanding the number of justices (i.e. court-packing) he said, “I don’t want my grandchildren one day asking me ‘why is there 151 members on the Supreme Court?’”
Stay tuned for additional updates from Fix the Court!