Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Does The Supreme Court Need Term Limits?


Written By:
Rob Port

Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, and can’t be removed from office short of impeachment. Throughout the history of the country, only one justice has ever been impeached (Chief Justice Samuel Chase for, among other things, his disgusting behavior during the sedition trial of pamphleteer James T. Callender) but he was ultimately acquitted by a majority vote of the Senate.
The idea behind the lifetime appointments, and the difficulty in removing them, is to insulate them from the whims of public opinion and the sway of partisan politics. But is it really working? Is it time to limit the term of justices on the Supreme Court?
Mark Levin, a long-time critic of the federal judiciary, thinks so:
Obviously this debate is happening in the wake of the Obamacare ruling, with conservatives not especially thrilled about Chief Justice John Roberts’ ruling that the individual mandate is legal, but revelations about Roberts’ having apparently switched his vote after writing most of what would ultimately become a dissenting opinion holding that the entire law should have been struck down makes the debate pertinent.
Does anyone really think the Supreme Court isn’t partisan? Or, at least, ideological? Right nowthe status quo has the fate of some of the most important policies in the nation being decided based on which presidents made which judicial appointments in years previous.
I’m not sure that term limits are the answer, but I find it hard to defend the court’s status quo too.