In almost every term, the [Supreme Court Justices] exercise veto power over fundamental policy questions such as abortion, gun control and freedom of speech and religion. There can be no denying the political and legal responsibility we place in these nine justices.
[…]
The original rationale for this highly anti-democratic idea [of life terms] was that the justices needed to be independent from the elected branches so that they could enforce the Constitution and decide cases without fear of political retaliation. But the Founding Fathers did not anticipate that the justices would be appointed so young and live so long.
[…]
Because the justices hold their offices for life, there are many examples of some who serve too long. As the historian David Garrow noted in his 2000 analysis of the problem, “mental decrepitude among aging justices is a persistently recurring problem.”



  1. dusanmal says:

    The only way to create independent top Court is to have life term appointments and rely on moral fortitude of appointors and appointees.
    Every time when Progressives fail to push their agenda through political manipulation, they rise against Courts. FDR anyone? Fact is that acceptable ideas will overcome over time if truly Constitutional. Enough with CRISIS! – let’s send Government to solve it, damn with the Constitution and Legal system… Particularly with fake crisis created for political purposes.

  2. BubbaMustafa says:

    Isn’t this kagan’s FIRST gig as a judge? Nice to have friends.

  3. kjb434 says:

    Supreme Courts have life terms, but at any moment, congress can impeach and remove a justice through a set process.

    They are not “supreme” in the terms that what they say is the final word. If it was, then they wouldn’t be a co-equal branch of government.

    Life term appointments aren’t a problem, the inability of congress or the executive branch to reign in bad decisions or Justices is the problem.

    • LibertyLover says:

      Bingo.

    • Guyver says:

      Supreme Courts have life terms, but at any moment, congress can impeach and remove a justice through a set process.

      So what does Congress do when the President decides his decision is supreme by writing executive orders to usurp the Congress?

      In this case nothing.

      • Bob says:

        Sad part is it depends on who is in charge of congress and who is the president.

        Executive orders need to be reigned in. They were used too much during Bush, and are being used to subvert congress under Obama.

  4. LotsaLuck says:

    Yeah, let’s definitely limit the terms of judges — right *after* we limit the terms of congresspeople.

  5. Dallas says:

    Should be a single 15 year term and appointed by selective group of trusted university scholars (50%), business people (40%) and maybe even a decent clergy or two (not your garden variety Christian Taliban). 10-12 people.

    • vdeane says:

      Using clergy would violate the constitution.

      • Dallas says:

        The Constitution is riddled with amendments. It was intended so as to create a more perfect union.

        It’s not like the bible where it’s all perfect as the thirsty, desert nomad on a camel wrote it.

    • Hmeyers says:

      Dallas has an interesting solution with some merit. Yet it is a poor solution.

      The legal system has to be based on precedent, not wisdom — not diversity of deep experience — but a coherent and consistent and logical set of known rules applied in a foreword thinking manner.

      Due to this, what a judge most needs is a deep understanding of legal history to be able to make consistent rulings.

      Being a judge that does his/her job right based on the body of past rulings is not an easy job.

      Dallas’s interesting solution does not take into account that the “law should be blind”. A good judge doesn’t need a diverse background, although pray to God a given judge has vicariously accumulated one through their study of case law.

      • Dallas says:

        My excellent solution did not specify the qualifications of a judge, but rather who should select them.

        Your reading comprehension skills are quite poor. you would make an awful judge.

  6. ± says:

     

                         Of course not.
     

  7. Hmeyers says:

    This is a solution looking for a problem.

  8. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

    Amusing application of the “mindset” or bias one brings to any discussion: are you liberal ((open to change)) or conservative ((against change))?

    Can we all agree that “if” a judge is mentally incompetent he should not be serving or is competency secondary to keeping a simple rule?

    If we all agree….as we should… that incompetents should be removed from the Court, then the stumbling block is who decides and how. So—maybe we all agree incompetents “should be” removed (liberal) but we can’t agree how so we leave the rule in place (conservative).

    The ying/yang of political analysis and paralysis.

    Who knows “the law”/constitution the best? Seems to me its lawyers and judges…… cutting to the chase: Selected by the Pres, confirmed by Congress by mandatory majority vote, reviewed by Federal Appellate Court Judges with more than 10 years service every 4 years inbetween Pres elections or on petition by 10% of the Federal Judges. All other rules to remain in place.

    Easy Peasy.

    Was there ever a reason for Gabby Gifford to stay in office after being shot in the head? Minimum wage sole support for poor families can’t take 2 years off for rehab and keep their jobs.

    How come?

    Whatsupwiddat? Its good to be King.

    • Dallas says:

      I don’t get how you can possibly write so much. Do you use Dragon?

      • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

        Ha, ha. I just write (part of) what I think. I don’t slow down for speed bumps like spelling or typos. I wonder how much that helps?

        Do hate typing something that doesn’t make any sense at all or wanders a bit too far.

        The kind souls on this forum give me a lot of leeway that way. Errors being corrected on close inspection.

        FORWARD!!!!!

  9. Chris Mac says:

    Judges make the best liars.

  10. deowll says:

    Part of the idea behind the long terms was to provide stability. It goes a long way toward preventing a movement or party from packing the court and imposing an agenda that people aren’t going to buy into in the long run. Change occurs. It doesn’t occur very fast which may have prevented a civil war or two. I think that’s a good thing because on the whole civil wars tend to be very messy things with a lot of property damage, dead bodies, and similar smelly and unsightly locations being created most often in major urban areas.

  11. Chris Mac says:

    4 billion is a rather large number, what, we’re at 6 now..

    you go girl, i’m out

  12. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

    deowll providing another example in a long chain of them demonstrating how he would do ill says:
    3/4/2013 at 10:34 pm

    Part of the idea behind the long terms was to provide stability. /// Yes, yes that is the expressly stated issue. The point being can we provide the benefits of stability while avoiding the harm of life time appointments and the senility it allows.

    It goes a long way toward preventing a movement or party from packing the court /// doesn’t do a thing from preventing adding additional judges to the panel.

    and imposing an agenda that people aren’t going to buy into in the long run. /// An agenda? Sounds awful specific as opposed to a bias or philosophy that is much more squishy.

    Change occurs. /// Always. Meaningless filler.

    It doesn’t occur very fast which may have prevented a civil war or two. /// Hows that again Mr fantasy factory?

    I think that’s a good thing because on the whole civil wars tend to be very messy things with a lot of property damage, dead bodies, and similar smelly and unsightly locations being created most often in major urban areas. /// You amplify the stupidest most irrelevant part of your post? Kinda makes me think this is the only real idea you have???

    Yep==TOTALLY missed the point of the post: Can we have the independence of the court in some way that will avoid the historical fact of judges becoming senile.

    Your response as usual is a total fail.

    Why do you do ill?

  13. Noname says:

    The Supremes only should serve as long as Dvorak Uncensored article makers do!

  14. Bad Bob says:

    “The Supremes”?? What, has Diana Ross been appointed now?

  15. Phydeau says:

    I don’t see how anyone can be against the concept of removing senile judges who are not doing their job, as described in the article:

    Douglas stayed on the court after having a stroke, often fell asleep on the bench and was so disoriented that the justices decided not to decide any cases in which his vote would matter. During the last few years of his career, Marshall reportedly told his clerks to simply vote the way Justice William Brennan did.

    I would personally be in favor of an age limit. Some might go downhill earlier, some later, but in general I think keeping really old people off the court would be a good thing.

    • Bob says:

      The problem is who decides that? I am sure Obama would like to declare two or three Judges as being senile. Of course they wouldn’t be the democrat judges.

  16. Guyver says:

    The original rationale for this highly anti-democratic idea [of life terms] was that the justices needed to be independent from the elected branches so that they could enforce the Constitution and decide cases without fear of political retaliation.

    Family, School, and the Job are not democratic. Every major institution of your life is highly anti-democratic. We live in a republic so the illusion of democracy only comes but once every couple of years and even then the powers that be can usurp the will of the people.

    But the Founding Fathers did not anticipate that the justices would be appointed so young and live so long.

    Elections have consequences. Would you be singing the same tune if the justices happened to share your opinions?

    Because the justices hold their offices for life, there are many examples of some who serve too long. As the historian David Garrow noted in his 2000 analysis of the problem, “mental decrepitude among aging justices is a persistently recurring problem.”

    So have someone propose amending the Constitution to define what a “lifetime” means. In the furniture industry a lifetime warranty usually means 7 years.

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

      Elections have consequences. Would you be singing the same tune if the justices happened to share your opinions? /// The issue is NOT OPINIONS, but rather competency/senility/not doing their job.

      Why do you CONFLATE the two issues?

  17. MileHighSlave says:

    I think judges should be limited to two 4 year terms at most. I think like any other position, they would need to be appointed by the POTUS every 4 years with “half” of the justices being up for renewal 2 years in to the POTUS’ term. So in this case ’15 & ’17.

    The current system keeps a former POTUS’ polices and politics in place for 20-30 years after a POTUS leaves office.

  18. MWD78 says:

    funny how this subject only comes up with liberal majorities and conservative courts.

    • Phydeau says:

      Funny how people forget how much this topic comes up, with conservative majorities and liberal courts too, back in the 60s.

  19. sargasso_c says:

    Mental decrepitude has not stopped an academic career in most colleges and universities across the world. Or life in political office. Why are the chief justices being singled out?

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

      Because they have a greater impact.