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Time has certainly passed Antonin Scalia about 60 years.  Today, he acted like the drunk, racist relative who embarrasses everyone at the family reunion. Except that he's embarrassed one of our most venerable institutions.

Inadvertently, Scalia made the case in favor of term limits for Supreme Court justices. This is a debate that court watchers occasionally delve into, but one that never reaches the general populace. Scalia's "perpetuation" of the outdated,hateful,  racist mindsets from the Eisenhower era might be the impetus that this proposal needs to enter the public dialogue. Like the system of white privilege and the segregation that helped perpetuate it, perhaps, the idea of an entitled legal elite occupying these seats of power for life is another idea that has outlived its justification and vitality. Perhaps the time has come to talk seriously about term limits for Supreme Court justices.

I'm not the first to suggest it, obviously. The consensus is that 18 years seems about right. Once that is staggered into a regular process, it ensures that each President would have at least 2 vacancies to fill. It also discourages trying to pack the Court with young ideologues who might stay there for 30 years or more. If a justice dies, then someone would fill the remainder of the term. At the end of that term, that justice or someone else could be nominated for the next 18-year term.

It's questionable whether a Constitutional change could change the rules for a sitting justice. I'm of the opinion it could, but the change would probably be written to grandfather in those on the Court now. Maybe public opinion might influence them to respect the idea. Probably not, in the case of Scalia and Thomas, who seem oblivious to public perceptions, or perhaps even emboldened to resist.

Still, this could spare the next generation from having to endure a similar spectacle from some cooky old crank who should have stepped aside years ago in favor of someone who can still connect with the memories and the concerns of life outside the Couurt.


Term limits for SCOTUS justices

78%41 votes
21%11 votes

| 52 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 08:56:17 PM PST

  •  I was just having the same thoughts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duckhunter, FischFry, MJB

    I just read the article at TPM.

    I was thinking the time is now to give each Justice one 9-year term. That's it! You are out and you are never going to be a SCJ again.

    Each President would nominate a new Justice each year. After nine years, the entire Court would be replaced.

    And it'd stop the - shall we say idiotic - policy of naming the youngest (least experienced) possible candidates to the most important bench in the nation. Being a SCOTUS justice would be a way to cap off a great career.

    Just off the top of my head ... so I don't start thinking HR-worthy things of Scalia.

  •  i think the only way that would happen (5+ / 0-)

    is though consitutional ammendment and I think it highly unlikely for that to happen

    In the time that I have been given,
    I am what I am

    by duhban on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 09:15:31 PM PST

    •  Yes, it would require an Amendment (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jayden, TheOpinionGuy, cosette

      Currently, judges -- all federal judges -- serve during good other words, for life, unless they're impeached. That's in the Constitution. It would need to be changed. We did it for the President. Why not the Court?

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

      by FischFry on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 09:24:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I would just add to this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prof Haley, doc2

      that term limits are a scourge.

      They reward few and work against democracy. If we want to elect a guy President, then we should not be barred from doing so.

      Term limits are not a fix for a broken system, winning elections is.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 09:25:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except this would be MORE democratic!! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ozsea1, twigg

        Term limits for elected officials at least in theory are undemocratic. We could argue whether in practice incumbency is the most undemocratic state of affairs, but that's a conversation about ELECTIONS.

        We're talking about judges who are never elected -- and they're appointed for life. How can you get more undemocratic than that? If we term limit the justices, our elected officials would play a larger role -- or at least, they would be involved in appointing and confirming the justices far more often.

        Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

        by FischFry on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 09:30:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm of 2 minds (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        on one hand term limits deter corruption and abuse of power, on the other you've a point too

        At the end of the day though we're not really a democracy and like the founders I'm not quite sure we should trust the mob completely

        In the time that I have been given,
        I am what I am

        by duhban on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 09:47:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's why they're nominated by President (0+ / 0-)

          Elections for judges are not a good thing. Anyone who has to raise money and campaign for votes can't be trusted to be independent from the mob, and be trusted to avoid corruption.

          Nominations offer a filter, but that doesn't mean they have to be for life. Maybe, it seemed like a good idea at the time -- in the way not having direct elections for Senators did, or filibusters. Or the electoral college.

          We don't have to be stuck with the choices made 225 years ago, if they're not working out as hoped in the modern world.

          Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

          by FischFry on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 04:53:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  No doubt but you are right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FischFry, cosette


      If discussing it keeps me from writing what I really feel about Scalia right now then at least it keeps me off the HR list.

    •  duhban - there is bipartisan support for this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the wingers like the idea and so do I.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 11:24:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This confederate Scalia has to think blacks are (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1, Quicklund

    not REAL AMERICANS and not covered under the constitution to make that "entitlement" statement. It's an entitlement for AMERICANS to vote without intimidation, violence and suppression. He must think we are slaves or should live under jim crow. Maybe he wish that was the case. This guy is a confederate and a kluxer. Yes, get his racist ass along with his obedient servant off the court through impeachment. But i don't believe in term limits, because the liberal ones would have to go too. How would you like a righty president nominating a few righty justices after the liberal ones terms are up and most of the rest are righty judges, whose term has not ended? Right now it's more likely one is appointed at a time.

    Example, two liberal judges term is up and there is a righty president and we already have 4 righty ones, than that makes 6 of these idiots.

  •  It's always time if one dislikes the trend. n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Think about this for people who vote no (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheOpinionGuy, FischFry

    These people have lifetime appointments yet no one considers lifetime changes in their lives.   Something to make them biased or a total mental discharge of the brain.   Seriously, who checks their mental worthiness to sit for a lifetime to dictate lives.   Checks and balances are fine but when the the scales are so tilted ...there will never be balance and can you imagine a Romney appointing judges?  A Ron Paul?  YES one should have a lifetime appointment except a parent and then they are excused when the child is 18 and the parent is no longer legally accountable.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 10:32:57 PM PST

  •  The whole point of lifetime appointment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, FischFry

    was that the Supreme Court would be insulated from politics.

    Clearly, that is no longer the case.
    The Incredible Polarization and Politicization of the Supreme Court

    As long as the justices put politics above interpreting legal and judicial arguments, they relinquish their privilege of lifetime appointments.

    •  Exactly. If it's not working as planned, change it (0+ / 0-)

      It can't get any more political than it is now, short of having elections for judges....which would make things a lot worse. We don't need to go that far. At least, term limits would limit the damage an individual judge might do. Making them less important individually could help. I don't see how it could make things any worse.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

      by FischFry on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 04:58:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In complete agreement... (0+ / 0-)

    Though I unfortunately can't see getting the Constitutional Amendment it would require passed and ratified.

    "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

    by Notthemayor on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 10:52:29 PM PST

  •  Dunno. They'd always be angling for their next job (0+ / 0-)

    If their stay on SCOTUS was limited they'd always be looking for what comes next. Wouldn't they tend to rule in favor of some BigCorp that had a case in front of them, in hopes of getting a job from that BigCorp after their term was up? That's how it seems to go in other term-limited positions.

    •  If federal judges still stay for life... (0+ / 0-)

      Then, the SCOTUS judges could still have cushy jobs, probably riding circuits as senior judges, which some have done.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

      by FischFry on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 10:17:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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