Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Are lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court bad?

I've been seeing a number of arguments against life tenure for Supreme Court justices around the blogosphere. Here's a Wall Street Journal opinion piece back from 2005 on the subject. I tend to agree: lifetime appointments encourage the appointment of justices who are young, so you can "stack the deck" as long as possible. This is not a good incentive.

A fixed term would also discourage the practice of justices hanging on too long, waiting for an administration they like, while their physical and mental capacities deteriorate.

3 Comments:

Anonymous bill in minneapolis said...

All Federal judges are appointed for life, not just Supreme Court Justices.

To change it would require a Constitional Amendment.

A 'fixed term' (25 years ?) creates a problem of how they are going to earn a living after the term is up and could that influence their independence.

A set retirement date (80 ?) raises the question of age discrimination. Justice Stevens at 89 appears to be going strong (still plays golf, etc.).

The currrent 'appointment for life' system works OK. I do not see any great need to change it.

6:50 PM, May 05, 2009  
Anonymous Ron said...

I've got to agree with Bill, above. There's no question that lifetime tenure for judges raises some problems. But a fixed term would be worse. You do *not* want judges to interpret the law with an eye toward the next election, or even worse, with an eye toward who will hire them after their term is up.

The independence of the judiciary is built into the Constitution for a reason. Screwing with it would be a cure worse than the disease.

3:28 PM, May 07, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi bill and ron

11:41 PM, April 09, 2012  

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