Fixed Terms for SCOTUS

Jack Balkin and Matt Yglesias are both talking about the merits of having a fixed term for a Supreme Court justice. Balkin suggests 18 years, Yglesias 9-12 years. I can see this making sense, as it would remove some of the political pressure of justices to, you know, wait until a like-minded President is in office to step aside. It’s a fairly arbitrary way of running a court system and having regular changes would ensure that there isn’t as much of a pressure to outlast any electoral deadlines, only serve your single term on the bench. And as Yglesias points out, it also would allow for the most qualified person, not the most qualified person under 50, to be considered. So much emphasis is now placed on finding a judge who can serve three or even four decades on the bench. It’s that way because of the requirements of the system as it stands now, but it doesn’t really make things any better.

I don’t expect there to be any changes to how the Supreme Court works, but it certainly is interesting to think about better systems than the life-time appointments we currently have.

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