Monday, July 25, 2005

Term limits for Supreme Court

I want a flash poll of our posters, 18 year term-limit for supreme court justices, yes or no?

Me: Yes.

Why? The dems will most certainly dip below the 50 year old mark to appoint a justice on their next opportunity.

While I like the idea of myself becoming a justice while in my 30s, I think this makes a lot of sense and prevents some sort of race to the bottom for justices in terms of age.

Interesting article from today's WSJ:

"The secrecy that shrouds the high court can also allow someone to turn his chamber into a nursing home, as William O. Douglas did in the 1970s. He was so determined to hang on until a new president could appoint someone philosophically compatible with him that he refused to leave after an incapacitating stroke. This is not only irresponsible, but for, say, a liberal justice hanging on through a series of Republican presidents, it is directly at odds with the preferences of the electorate. In Douglas's case, his colleagues were so concerned that they informally agreed that during the last year of his service none of the court's decisions would be valid if his was the deciding vote. They finally pressured him to resign in 1975. A weakened Thurgood Marshall often looked to his fellow octogenarian William Brennan on how to vote because he no longer could hear well enough to understand the arguments other justices made during their conferences"

"The various proposals to impose term limits have interesting variations on the same theme. All would exempt sitting justices from any limits, ending arguments that one president could "pack the court." Almost all would set the limit at 18 years, with one seat opening up every two years. Some proposals would seek to change the Constitution, others maintain a mere statute would suffice if the principle of life tenure were retained by giving retiring justices the right to serve on a lower federal court after 18 years.
A major advantage of term limits is that they would limit the temptation for justices to remain in office if the presidency is occupied by someone they are ideologically opposed to. Each president would get to appoint at least two justices. That would end the anomaly of some presidents being unable to make any appointments for an entire term (Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush in his first four years) while others (William Howard Taft) get to appoint four during a single term in office. Confirmation battles, now routinely toxic, might become less so because the stakes would be reduced, with everyone knowing the nominee would serve 18 years instead of a possible 35 or more.
Had a simple 18 year limit been in place when each of the current justices on the court were confirmed, William Rehnquist would have retired in 1990 followed by John Paul Stevens three years later. Sandra Day O'Conner would have left the court in 1999 and Antonin Scalia would have stepped down last year. David Souter, who some conservatives call one of the biggest mistakes made by the first President Bush would have to step down in the final year this President Bush will be in office. "


At 4:41 PM, Blogger Purn said...

First, I don't know if the public can see our comments. I kinda think so if they find the blog but Nolan might have a better idea.

Steve, have fun on your space vacation with the Russians. Hope their 1970's era space equipment doesn't crap out while you're up there. I still can't believe you spent 1/8 of your signing bonus on that!

I would have to say that I don't agree with term limits on the court. It would be nice to know that X justice is only going to serve 18 years but this arguement doesn't deal with a justice who dies in office or decides to retire.

There is a race to the bottom in terms of age. Bill Clinton and H.W. are the two presidents who really started it. Dubya has taken it to the next level with a 50 yr old being placed on the bench.

Interesting concept though. Ohio term limits their justices but we also vote on those. We have little to no say in our Supreme Court.

At 5:20 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

Is there an age requirement to be a Justice? We never really talk about that, I guess I could look it up but that takes a lot of time. Maybe 35 yrs old? I better get cracking on that federal judgeship.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Nathan said...

This is the slowest flash poll ever...I guess all the other bums don't check this blog compulsively since they are effectively unemployed.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Purn said...

Since it's Wednesday, I'm going to close this 'flash' poll and call it a dead heat, 1 in favor, 1 against.

Nice going posters. Way to check our blog.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I haven't had internet for a while. It's been rough.

In my apartment in Lakewood, its great you all need to come visit. I bought a TV yesterday too (similar model as the old one, but smaller).

I think the judge thing is interesting... what about an amendment to set a min age limit for a judge (if it doesn't already exist, which I am pretty confident it doesn't). 45 or 50 might be a nice number.

The consequences to setting term limits don't seem that serious if they are old enough to actually retire after 18 years... the orig idea was that judges could rule accordign to the consitution indtead of pandering to the people/congress/president trying to remain on the court. My concern, however, would be what influence they may have after retiring. WOuld judges rule certain ways with hopes of getting spoils after retirement? I would need to think about this more, thus I abstain.

Anyone can see what we post. This will surely come back to haunt us.

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

Judges can already retire whenever they want and thus rule ways that would allow them to gain spoils after retirement, but I suppose it could change the dynamic of staying on the court until one is incapable...

However with the 18 year term limit I don't think we'd be getting many 50 year old's as the incentive to place someone so young on the court would be gone...

I don't know.

Also for future reference someone else has my username and password so any offensive comments probably didn't come from me.

At 5:24 PM, Blogger Steve said...

While I think Roberts was chosen partially because of his age, I am not sure we wouldn't see any 50 year old judges, even with 18yr term limits. He is still very qualified despite his age. So, say he was confirmed with an 18yr term limit - retiring at 68 would be very early. Though you are right, if someone realyl wanted to retire early and earn spoils they could still do so given the current rules.


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