To our fellow Americans [PDF version here]:

Our nation has embarked on another campaign season in earnest, and soon we will encounter the predictable stream of ad hominem attacks and negative ads that comes with it. Sadly, the process by which we nominate and confirm Supreme Court justices could be described in the same manner.

This should not come as a surprise. With life tenure, each nomination is cast in apocalyptic terms, as neither party knows when its presidents will have another opportunity to make an appointment. The court itself is not blameless, as in recent years it’s handed down what many Americans see as overtly political decisions, typically with 5-4 votes.

There is no easy way to move us out of this dynamic, but it has become clear to us that a strong step in the right direction would be to revisit life tenure at the Supreme Court.

We choose not to endorse any particular plan here, so long as terms are sufficiently long to maintain judicial independence. But we believe that continuing to concentrate power in the hands of a few individuals, who sit for many decades with almost no oversight and little incentive to compromise, is no longer good public policy, if it ever was. A court seen by most Americans as a political actor, whose very legitimacy is routinely questioned, and whose appointment process has devolved into farce, is in need of fixing.

We hope that voters – and by extension, those running in 2020 – will join us in considering the best way to move the country toward a healthier constitutional balance and shift the Supreme Court away from its current role as a battleground in our partisan wars.

Respectfully,
David Abraham, Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Miami School of Law
Jeffrey Abramson, Professor of Law & Government, University of Texas at Austin School of Law
Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale Law School
Neal Allen, Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science, Wichita State University
William Araiza, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School
Sahar Aziz, Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School
Asli Bâli, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
Ian Bartrum, Professor of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law
Carl Bogus, Professor Law, Roger Williams University School of Law
Harold Bruff, Rosenbaum Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Colorado Boulder Law School
Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California Berkeley School of Law
Robert Cooter, Herman F. Selvin Professor of Law, University of California Berkeley School of Law
Mary Dudziak, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law
Sam Erman, Professor of Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law
David Faris, Associate Professor of Political Science, Roosevelt University
John Ferejohn, Samuel Tilden Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law
Stephen Gillers, Elihu Root Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
Ellen Goodman, Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School
Robert Gordon, Professor of Law, Stanford University
Jamal Greene, Dwight Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
Stephen Griffin, Rutledge C. Clement Jr. Professor in Constitutional Law, Tulane University Law School
Joseph Grodin, Associate Justice (ret.), California Supreme Court; Professor of Law Emeritus, University of California Hastings College of the Law
Dennis Hutchinson, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Chicago Law School
John Inazu, Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion, Washington University in St. Louis
Ted Kaufman, former U.S. senator, D-Del.; former Professor of the Practice, Duke University School of Law
Richard Kay, Wallace Stevens Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Connecticut School of Law
Raymond Ku, Professor of Law, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
David Landau, Mason Ladd Professor, Florida State University College of Law
Carlton Larson, Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law
Michael Lawrence, Foster Swift Professor of Constitutional Law, Michigan State University College of Law
Brian Leiter, Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence, University of Chicago Law School
Gerald Leonard, Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law
Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School
Sandford Levinson, W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, University of Texas at Austin School of Law
Steven Lubet, Edna B. and Ednyfed H. Williams Memorial Professor of Law, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
Thomas McAffee, William S. Boyd Professor of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law
Thomas Metzloff, Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law
Alan Morrison, Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest and Public Service Law, George Washington University School of Law
Samuel Moyn, Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence, Yale Law School
Philip Oliver, Byron M. Eiseman Distinguished Professor of Tax Law, University of Arkansas Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law
Norm Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Richard Parker, Williams Professor of Justice, Harvard Law School
Joel Paul, Professor of Law, University of California Hastings College of the Law
Michael Perry, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law
Harold Pollack, Helen Ross Professor, University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration
Lucas A. Powe Jr., Anne Green Regents Chair in Law, University of Texas at Austin School of Law
Richard Primus, Theodore J. St. Antoine Collegiate Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
Aziz Rana, Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
William Reynolds, Jacob A. France Professor Emeritus of Judicial Process, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
Kermit Roosevelt, Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Peter Schuck, Baldwin Professor of Law Emeritus, Yale Law School
Herman Schwartz, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
Eric Segall, Kathy and Lawrence Ashe Professor of Law, Georgia State University College of Law
Matthew Seligman, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law. Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School
Theodore St. Antoine, James E. and Sarah A. Degan Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Michigan Law School
Joan Steinman, Distinguished Professor of Law Emerita, Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law
Franita Tolson, Vice Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law
Gerald Torres, Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
Laurence Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Harvard Law School
Robert Tsai, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Adam Winkler, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
Mary Ziegler, Stearns Weaver Miller Professor, Florida State University College of Law