Courts play a crucial role in the lives of everyday Americans. They help to interpret constitutions and laws of the land.
Nomination of the federal judges comes from the president and these judges will be in office for a lifetime. Furthermore, I don’t think its right; I personally believe they should highest do a four year term and go through the election process instead of being nominated by the president. The reasoning behind this is that a president can sign in a family member or personal friend not equipped for the job but the election process rules fair ground for the right candidate.
The branches of government are mean to be independent and have to have a clause to stop one another not giving too much power to any branch of government per say. If this were to go through, sectors of the government could collaborate together and run the country however they please not taking into account a major department. Causing secrecy, chaos and bad intentions from our political leaders and giving them the bad mindset to join up with other sectors for their own goals.
Supreme Court judges take an oath to serve the country in the best way they possibly can, and after being on the court so many years while having this lifetime sentence their mindset becomes another judge shouldn’t take their place. Not in an arrogant or conceited way just for the fact that they don’t think someone would do the job better than themselves with so much experience. For example, the only female Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who was appointed in 1993 by President Clinton is 81 years old still making detrimental decisions for our country. Though at her age she is still in her right mind and knows what decisions need to be made but someone of that stature should have been retired years ago when it comes to major resolutions of the United States. With these judges staying in office for life doesn’t give young attorneys a chance to have their shot at being a supreme court and naturally lowers their mindset of hwo good they can be.
In hindsight, judges sworn in by the president should be given a specific term of office they would be in the Supreme Court. The judges should also be elected by our political parties just like the president giving our court system the voice of the people not just the opinion of the president. These judges make some of the most important decisions in the country and we should definitely have trust in those who we elected and know that when their term is up we can bring in new voices which we see fit.
Costly, A. (n.d.). The Patriot Act:. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from http://www.crf-usa.org/america-responds-to-terrorism/the-patriot-act.html
Shigley, Chambers Aholt & Richard, LLP404-253-7862, K. (2016, August 31). Atlanta Injury Law Blog. Retrieved February 10, 2017, from http://www.atlantainjurylawblog.com/
Kelly, Mary Proposed Constitutional Amendments On The 2016 Ga. Ballot (2016, October 12) Retireved February 10, 2017 from http://news.wabe.org/post/proposed-constitutional-amendments-2016-ga-ballot
The question of lifetime tenure for Supreme Court justices is an important one which has been brought up among legal scholars for years (Calabresi & Lindgren 2005). In a single word, my answer is no, the supreme court should not have lifetime tenure. The debate surrounding this answer and the question in general has many different levels which I will try to briefly tackle in my following argument.
First, there is the question of why we have lifetime tenure. Initially, lifetime tenure was intended to provide insulation of justices from the ebb and flow of the politics in the other branches of the federal government. With the two-year terms of congress, the four-year term of the president, and the six-year terms of senators, there is a constant political battle for power. Ensuring lifetime tenure allows justices to grow outside of this political realm and act free of fear of political recoil. While this intention is reasonable and logical, in practice these supreme court justices are appointed under a process which is inherently political. This can be seen in the present debate surrounding former president Barack Obama and president Donald Trump’s appointments for the supreme court. Republicans slowed Obama’s nomination until Trump took presidency, and now democrats are doing everything they can to halt Trump’s appointment from taking a seat on the Supreme Court bench.
Another question might be what is wrong with the current arrangement. Problems which have been identified by legal scholars are numerous and include: decrepitude, intellectual autopilot, hubristic complacency, unaccountability, randomness, uglier confirmation battles, eroded legitimacy, and diminished productivity (Taylor 2005). It seems clear that there is a plethora of concerns about lifetime tenure which after even quick consideration seem serious. Another important point is that the issue was far different when the decision to adopt lifetime tenure was made. Calabresi & Lindgren (2005) point out that when the first supreme court was established, the average length of tenure for a justice was 7.5 years. It is now 26.1 years (Calabresi & Lindgren 2005). All the issues previously listed are exacerbated by increased length in tenure. It appears there is an easy middle ground that will likely avoid the extremely long tenures and associated problems while still ensuring insulation from political ebb and flow.
A better solution might be to have regular supreme justice appointment periods to ensure that each presidential term can appoint a supreme court justice. One such proposal is the “Carrington-Cramton proposal” which states that appointments should happen once during each session of congress, or every two years. Justices would then have 18 year maximum appointments. While this is a compelling notion, Carrington and Cramton fail to provide a realistic and politically acceptable method of transitioning to such a system (Calabresi & Lindgren 2005). The Calabresi & Lindgren proposal similarly caps tenure on the Supreme Court to 18 years. It is different in that the judges are appointed to lifetime tenure in the federal courts, but can only sit on the Supreme Court for 18 years. Before and after their Supreme Court tenure, these judges serve on lesser courts. The authors find this much more acceptable compared to current practices and point out several comparative processes that are currently used in the courts. Their argument is compelling. Calabresi and Lindgren (2005) do fail to acknowledge Carrington and Crampton’s argument about the regularity of appointments and staggering them between sessions of congress. This seems to slightly weaken their argument, as this may be another important way to insulate appointments or nominations from politics. Even if there is an 18-year tenure cap, what if several of these tenures were to expire simultaneously and one president and senate could make several appointments. This could change the face of American legislation for decades.
In conclusion, it may not be clear exactly what an alternative may be, but it seems clear that life tenure of Supreme Court Justices is an outdated practice which has many flaws that have been further exacerbated by lengthening tenures. The American political system was designed to process change slowly, but it seems clear that change is needed. Further legal debate likely needs to be undertaken to discover a new tenure system as well as a transition stage to ensure an efficient change process.
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