the Teachable Moment
How can terms of the Supreme Court be limited?
The U.S. Supreme Court decides some of the most contested issues that our country faces. In our nation, 9 people, who can stay in their positions for life, decide the fate of over 330 million people. Nobody should be in a position of such power for life. No other democracy on earth gives power to governmental officials for life. Corruption can exist in the Supreme Court because justices are supposed to be nonpolitical, but they often keep their position well past their ability to function well until a president is elected who will replace them with someone with their political point of view.
Public and private businesses have a mandatory retirement age because people in their 70s and 80s are not at their best, physically or mentally. And most Supreme Court Justices are already over 65. Even their colleagues often notice their failing mental capabilities. Their lack of mental acuity is a serious matter when these judges are deciding the fate of millions of people.
Changing the terms of Supreme Court justices does not require amending the Constitution, just a simple law passed by Congress. Here is a solution: Congress can pass a law so that a new justice will be added to the court every other year, making their terms of service 18 years each (with a retirement age limit). Each president will then get to make two appointments per presidential term, one in each first and third year. This will reduce conflict over presidential choice of new justices and limit the 9 judges from becoming too politically influential.
Term limits and a mandatory retirement age for the Supreme Court Justices should be a major national issue with Congress.