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View Diary: This is for you, Its the Supreme Court, Stupid (216 comments)

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  •  Which brings up something (8+ / 0-)

    that NO ONE IN AMERICA wants to talk about.  Which is WHY THE HELL do Supreme Court Justices serve for life?  I mean, really, in what area of politics does anyone think someone should serve for life?  Is there anything more about a monarchy than a democracy than this?!?!?!!?!

    And don't anyone dare to tell me the SCOTUS isn't about politics.  OF COURSE IT IS.  How could it not be, when it is presidents that nominate justices?  

    Seriously, drives me crazy.  I just don't get it.  Who would you trust FOR LIFE to make important decisions without having to suffer the threat of losing that position if enough people thought you screwed up?

    Our system recognizes that 8 years is long enough for any president, but thinks those that command the interpretation of our laws should serve till they retire or keel over?!?!?!?!

    YES, Dave in Northridge, it IS the Supreme Court, stupid.  That is the body, way over any presidency, that has and will consistently determine the arc of this country. That is the body that slides by our "checks and balances."  

    •  Besides there is no way to remove them if thier (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, jimreyn, glorificus, StellaRay

      brains get worm nibbled and all quivery and whatever. I think the most senile simply have thier cllerks write thier decisions. Someone should check out the influence and power of thier clerks. Heck, I  even have a hard time remembering numbers when I used to be able memorize instantly phone numbers to dial them over a year later. Annoyed the crap out of fellow students when I would walk along banks of lockers opening them all. Not today no way.

      There are many people who are vibrant and sharp to nearly 100. But not every damn one of them. The stats just don't follow.

      The original framers of the constitution probably didn't realize that one day we could keep peoples bodies alive long after thier minds turned into walnuts. Or into hedonistic self aggrandizement machines like Thomas.

      Maybe a constitutional amendment restricting term of office to something that is independent of elections.

      Fear is the Mind Killer

      by boophus on Sat Jan 28, 2012 at 08:27:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Stella - all federal judges serve for life. (6+ / 0-)

      As Adam notes the founders wanted the judiciary to not be subject to political pressure. However, I believe there is bi-partisan support for 18 year terms for the SCOTUS.  Once the lifetime appointees had retired, there would be a new SCOTUS judge every two years. It will take a Constitutional Amendment, but I think there is support from liberals and conservatives on this issue.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sat Jan 28, 2012 at 09:41:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, there is a proposal that would not (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badlands, Adam B, glorificus, StellaRay

        take an amendment. Of course the justices would continue as federal judges without reduction in salary, but the plan would allow for rotation into senior status as every two years a slot opens for a nomination. It would also alleviate whatever good faith reluctance justices have to recuse themselves, by supplying a backup corps of justices who could eliminate the risk of ties. It's not perfect, but it is simpler than passing a constitutional amendment.

        Carrington et al. proposals

        •  VR - That's going to be difficult (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Villanova Rhodes

          There is no bipartisan support for anything that would allow the President to replace any member of the conservative majority with one of his picks so this has no chance unless the Dems take the House and build on their majority in the Senate, both of which seem doubtful.

          What would determine who stepped down, age or length of service?

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 10:02:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, it's highly unlikely, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            just not as difficult to accomplish as a constitutional amendment. I give it no chance in the current climate, nor would it be my first priority for a judiciary act. As for how it would work:

            (1) It wouldn't apply to any of the current justices (or others appointed before the new act takes effect) except insofar as one might choose to take senior justice status rather than fully retire.

            (2) Seniority on the Supreme Court, not age, is the trigger. The nine most junior justices would comprise the active Court. Where, as in the case of a recusal, a senior justice needs to be brought in to fill out the nine, it would be done by reverse seniority -- last rotated out is the first to be called back. (In general, a Chief Justice would serve for seven years.)

            As proposed, it would take quite a while to phase in, so the current President/Congress alignment isn't particularly important -- the gaming comes in predicting what future alignments will be. It's a "goo goo" proposal that would only happen if both parties are uncertain enough about their future strength to agree that any given appointment would typically yield an 18-year term, not influence for generations to come. If people really wanted to lower the temperature and reduce the power of the "it's the Supreme Court, stupid" meme, and -- more likely -- dilute the power of individual justices, it would make sense. But if Bush v. Gore didn't drive such a change, it's hard to imagine what will. Perhaps an equivalent overreach by a Democratically dominated Court, someday.  

            Would the bar and legal academy favor it? I'm not sure (if that even matters). Regular rotation would reduce predictability, which is supposedly one of the system's highest values. If it were in place now, it would be hard to ever define something as "the Roberts' Court" in the sense that we talk about Warren, Burger, or Rehnquist Courts. Would that be bad or good? Different, at any rate. (Personally, I think a new justice every two years is too frequent, but I haven't thought through how to make it less frequent without creating other issues.)

            Lots of potential collateral effects, including on the courts of appeals, if the recent trend toward elevating circuit judges holds. As far as structural problems go, in fact, the courts of appeals need attention more than the Supreme Court. If I had to choose where to spend capital, it would be there, but big changes tend to come in sweeping judiciary acts, not tinkering. (God help us if this has to be hashed out under a Sessions chairmanship.) There are too many other big things that need to be done that have a constituency behind them, but it's good to have the groundwork done for when the stars align.

    •  and another thing -- WHY doesn't the general (7+ / 0-)

      code of ethics of judges apply to the Supreme Court!??

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Sat Jan 28, 2012 at 11:10:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not well-versed in life span research, (0+ / 0-)

      but I don't think people lived to their 80s and 90s as often in the late 1700s as they do now.

      Also, I do not believe the founders thought people would become politicians for life, as so many do now. I think a term limit of 25-30 years for a Supreme would be fine.

      If life gives you melons, you may be dyslexic.

      by glorificus on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:14:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What I would like to know. . . (0+ / 0-)

      . . .is why they have is no accountability mechanism.  

      I am a liberal. So, I should not expect any consideration from the guy I helped elect.

      by waztec on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:42:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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