Time has certainly passed Antonin Scalia by....by 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 Scalia's "perpetuation" of the outdated,hateful, racist mindsets from the Eisenhower era might be the impetus that this proposal needs to enter the public dialogue.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.