Skip to main content

Supreme Court of United States (SCOTUS) was last reformed in 1869 (Judiciary Act of 1869) and the number of SCOTUS judges has remained unchanged since then. FDR tried reforms in 1937 but backed out because his plan was in response to the decisions of the New Deal

Reforms to SCOTUS has rarely gone beyond term limit discussions. I present four (maybe radical ideas) that we need to consider to ensure SCOTUS moves from the 19th century to 21st century

US in 1870 had 38 million citizens. Today, we have more than 310 million citizens. State formation were coming to an end and the country had just seen a completion of the civil war. How can we have the same SCOTUS size and working as those days.

The following are my thoughts & ideas for debate on SCOTUS reforms

1. The bench size should increase from 9 to 15. How did i arrive at 15? There are 13 US Court of Appeals - 11 "numbered" circuits, DC circuit and the Federal Circuit. Every circuit should find a representation and allow 2 additional representatives not attached to circuit representation. Circuit representation implies someone who has served as a judge, participated in private or public practice in the circuit

2. The term for Chief Justice is limited to 15 years or when they reach the age of 80. Long enough to make impact on the court but gives an out as they advance in age. The Chief Justice can elect to remain on the SCOTUS bench after the 15 years or elect to retire.

3. The term for any member of the SCOTUS bench cannot exceed 20 years.

4. At the end of every Presidency, the two most senior judges on the bench retire. That allows the new President to nominate 2 judges at the beginning of their term and any other positions when a vacancy arises. My impression is that over a period of time, we will have 90%+ planned retirement cases only.

These type of forced retirements are quite common in public service. For example, in Military, a lot of 3-Star and 4-Star officers take retirement not to impede the forward progress of their juniors. Why can't the same hold true for the judiciary?

Let me know your thoughts


Which of these proposal do you support?

10%3 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
34%10 votes
0%0 votes
24%7 votes
31%9 votes

| 29 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  May Need a 5th for Problem That Could Begin (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, InfiniteThoughts

    to be an issue: a ban on accepting any kind of gifts and private employment after serving on the Court, in order to maintain the insulation of Justices' decisions from undo influence.

    It's become a terrific problem in the military and in elected & appointed government service, where people serve for a modest time all the while advancing corporate interests, then they retire to cash in.

    Even if we don't term-limit justices we may need a safeguard if we don't already have them.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 09:37:56 AM PDT

  •  Sorry, but the Framers of the Constitution set the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    SCOTUS for a reason... so that it could be beyond the reach of day-to-day politics and politicians.  We may disagree with their rulings, but since they have performed no impeachable offense (the only way a Justice can be removed involuntarily) we have to deal with how things are.  The was the SCOTUS is now set up is a perfect illustration of why elections matter.

    -8.88, -7.77 Social Security as is will be solvent until 2037, and the measures required to extend solvency beyond that are minor. -- Joe Conanson

    by wordene on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 09:40:57 AM PDT

    •  Article III is one page. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TofG, InfiniteThoughts

      It created a Supreme Court, but doesn't say how many jurists, etc, and that they shall hold their office during good behavior.

      Then it talks about jurisdiction, and lastly treason.  

      That's it.  

      So there's a lot that can be adressed via legislation.

      And there's always amending the Constitution (I know, low probability in this day and age.)

      Republicans: if they only had a heart.

      by leu2500 on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 10:00:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like the idea of a term limit of either 20 years (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    or age 80, whichever comes sooner.

  •  add an ethics code (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, InfiniteThoughts

    to prevent any potential conflict of interest - like the Thomas issues and participation in partisan political events or fundraisers.

    Violations should be impeachable.

    And a 2nd add, really more of a question - how do SCOTUS rulings get appealed?  Where is the ability to look back at campaign financing and revisit the CU case?

    why I'm a Democrat - Isaiah 58:6-12, Matthew 25:31-46

    by marking time on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 09:55:20 AM PDT

    •  It Is Already Impeachable... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The reasons for impeachment are very subjective.  Just like the filibuster, our politicians are reluctant to use impeachment unless it is absolutely necessary, because they do not want the same treatment when they fall out of power.

      If our elected representatives truly believed that a Justice had a real conflict of interest they could impeach the Justice.

  •  Confirmation threshold based on age (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'd like to see a supermajority requirement to confirm younger nominees.  And some way of holding justices accountable for their confirmation testimony.

  •  FDR Didn't Try To Reform The Court... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InfiniteThoughts, JLan

    he tried to "pack it" to get his legislation through.

    I find it difficult to believe anyone who proposes to increase the size of the Court is doing so for any reason other than to change current rulings.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site