Perhaps the power bestowed on Supreme Court justices is too great. If so, does it make sense for justices to be subjected to term limits?
Congress is having one hell of time confirming new justices these days. Opposing senators say over and over that nominees to the Court must stand up to the harshest scrutiny because the seats are lifetime appointments. Most agree with this perspective, so why shouldn’t we amend the Constitution and force some healthy turnover on the Court?
Consider the plight of Brett Kavanaugh. He’s been bludgeoned mercilessly by Senate Democrats relating to an incident that may or may not have occurred thirty-six years ago when he was 17.
Opponents of Kavanaugh are spending an inordinate amount of time counting the cans of beer the nominee drank when he was in high school and college. No consideration is being given to the fact that since college Kavanaugh has never been cited for excessive alcohol consumption, assaulted anyone in a drunken stupor, received a DWI summons or was criticized for being inebriated while performing his role as a judge. This is more than most typical legislators can claim about their lives.
Kavanaugh has led an exemplary life and has been touted as a potential Supreme Court justice for years. Moments before he attained this exalted position, a woman materialized out of the blue and accused him of sexual assault in the 1980s. Dr. Ford indicated that because a Supreme Court appointment was for life, she was obligated to come forth.
The circumstances surrounding Ford are just a little dicey. For one thing she didn’t want to go public. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) received a letter written by Ford and guided her “coming out” moment, in spite of Ford’s desire to remain anonymous. It’s been alleged that the senator leaked the story to the press to gain a political edge against Kavanaugh who was well on his way towards confirmation, thereby ignoring the plea of the accuser.
Lifetime appointments are significant because, by the luck of the draw, one president could be in a position to pack the Court with like-minded individuals for an extended period of time. A 45 year-old justice could be on the bench for 40 years. If two or three justices retire and/or pass away during a single presidential term, that president could replace them with radical justices (liberal or conservative).
Changing the Constitution and limiting justices to say ten years of service would mitigate many of the problems affiliated with the current system. A “bad” appointment would only last for a finite period of time. The average age of the Court would decrease and the debates and insights from the justices would surely be enhanced. As an aside, Justice Ginsberg has been having problems staying awake while the Court is in session. Younger justices would have more energy and also be more in tuned to our dynamic society and changing times that make old laws less relevant.
Unless the F.B.I. finds a smoking gun, Kavanaugh is likely to be confirmed. In my last post I indicated that he is damaged merchandise. He could very well retain a bias against those that treated him unfairly along with the issues that they champion. We should expect him to lean even further right if confirmed.
Prospectively, confirming a male will be particularly difficult. What goes around comes around. You can be sure that when Republicans are the opponents, nominees will be tormented in kind.
The Kavanaugh process was a total disaster for our country and the Supreme Court. In this instance Democratic senators are most culpable.
In the near future, the country should consider limiting the tenure of Supreme Court justices.