Should Supreme Court Justices be appointed for Life?

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#1 Posted by Planet_Pluto (2175 posts) -

I understand some of the reasons for the origins of Supreme Court Justices being appointed for life. So that each new President couldn't fill up the court and stack it in his favor, for one example.

However, seeing as life expectencies today are so much different than they were, is it time to rethink the lifetime appointments? Although part of a panel of justices, does a lifetime appointment grant to much power over too long a time to individuals?

#2 Posted by needled24-7 (15900 posts) -

i don't think they should be appointed for life, but i don't know of another good way to do it. if you have a vote, i can see people voting them out only so they can get someone in that will help their agenda, regardless of if the person voted out was doing a good job

#3 Posted by Oleg_Huzwog (21885 posts) -

Although part of a panel of justices, does a lifetime appointment grant to much power over too long a time to individuals?

Planet_Pluto

You said it yourself - "part of a panel". That's good enough for me to say no, it's not too much power for one individual.

#4 Posted by SeventhEntity (682 posts) -
No. I get the feeling this might backfire heavily
#5 Posted by Engrish_Major (17368 posts) -
Only if they are aligned with my political ideology.
#6 Posted by thegerg (15406 posts) -

i don't think they should be appointed for life, but i don't know of another good way to do it. if you have a vote, i can see people voting them out only so they can get someone in that will help their agenda, regardless of if the person voted out was doing a good job

needled24-7
Election isn't the only alternative to lifetime appointments, you know.
#7 Posted by theone86 (20555 posts) -

I'm a bit undecided, but generally SCOTUS justices do step down once they start to develop health problems as it is a stressful full-time job. I think there are deeper problems with the court. The reason for the court and the way it operates in the first place is that they are supposed to rule on issues that are beyond politics and beyond electoral processes. In other words, the rights that they're supposed to protect like the right to assembly should not be open to referrendum by the general public nor infused into political races. I think the biggest problem is that SCOTUS has become subject to politics. First it was bench-stacking mostly in reaction to Roe v. Wade (at least that was the reason given for the creation of the doctrine of bench-stacking), and now the idea that when you're voting for a President you're voting for a SCOTUS justice as well is commonplace as a consequence of stacking. If we want to fix SCOTUS I think what we really need to do is come to terms with the fact that it shouldn't be politicized, that protecting rights is simply that and if someone takes issue with a certain practice such as gay marriage they should exercise their own rights to free speech rather than attacking the rights of others by trying to politicize the court. Of course, a bit more accountability would be nice as well.

#8 Posted by Planet_Pluto (2175 posts) -

Only if they are aligned with my political ideology.Engrish_Major
Well, of course :)

Thats kinda the thing though. Lets say over the course of the next 12 to 16 years, several Justices retire (or expire) while a Republican holds the White House. The court could become so slanted to the right and it could take decades before a course correction could be made (feel free to substitute Democrat for Republican in this example).

Also, lets say a right-leaning Justice is contemplating retiring, I can't help but think he/she would wait until there is a Republican President.

#9 Posted by Wasdie (49995 posts) -

Appointed for life is silly. They should be voted on like everything else.

#10 Posted by thegerg (15406 posts) -

Appointed for life is silly. They should be voted on like everything else.

Wasdie
You seem to be confused. "Everything else" isn't voted on.
#11 Posted by peterw007 (3653 posts) -

Considering a lot of Congressmen have been in Congress since the 1970s (see Newt Gingrich), I really don't think that making the Supreme Court Justice position electable will make much difference, to be honest.

#12 Posted by nintendofreak_2 (25896 posts) -

No, simply because things change overtime, and past events have shown that the justices aren't always keeping up with the times. I really can't think of a better way to appoint them though. Voting them in would not only be quite a hassle, but that would just make justices focus more on the political side of things as opposed to actually wanting to be a good justice (as it is now with Congress and the Presidency). I would support terms for appointments, but I still can't think of a good way to have justices reseated or selected without one party or the other having an advantage just because they're the one currently in control of the presidency or Congress.

#13 Posted by Oleg_Huzwog (21885 posts) -

Appointed for life is silly. They should be voted on like everything else.

Wasdie

Upon what grounds would voters be expected to base their decision?

#14 Posted by thegerg (15406 posts) -

Considering a lot of Congressmen have been in Congress since the 1970s (see Newt Gingrich), I really don't think that making the Supreme Court Justice position electable will make much difference, to be honest.

peterw007

Again, election isn't the only alternative to life time appointment.

Anyway, Justices are appointed, not elected, because it is their job to rule based on the Constitution. Were the issues of politics and re-election cycles to be as important to these officials as they are to, say, Congressmen then such pressure to comply with public opinion could interfere with their ability to rule in accordance with the Constitution (rather than public opinion).

The life term of the appointment is to prevent any president from having the ability to easily empty the bench and then stak it in line with Judges in line with his personal (or his political party's) ideological beliefs.

Of course no system is perfect, but there's a rhyme to the reason.

#15 Posted by airshocker (29833 posts) -

No, I think they should stay appointed for life.

We don't need people who will make decisions solely because they're up for re-election.

#16 Posted by JML897 (33125 posts) -

We don't need people who will make decisions solely because they're up for re-election.

airshocker

This, the thought of the public voting for Supreme Court justices is terrifying

#17 Posted by thegerg (15406 posts) -

[QUOTE="airshocker"]

We don't need people who will make decisions solely because they're up for re-election.

JML897

This, the thought of the public voting for Supreme Court justices is terrifying

Hey, maybe they're just really in favor of whites-only drinking fountains and keeping women out of the voting booth.
#18 Posted by needled24-7 (15900 posts) -

[QUOTE="needled24-7"]

i don't think they should be appointed for life, but i don't know of another good way to do it. if you have a vote, i can see people voting them out only so they can get someone in that will help their agenda, regardless of if the person voted out was doing a good job

thegerg

Election isn't the only alternative to lifetime appointments, you know.

yeah i know, but i was too lazy to think of others '_'

#19 Posted by Planet_Pluto (2175 posts) -

Just to restate what some others are saying, there are other options to lifetime appointments than general elections.

Although this isn't set in stone, I'm thinking about something along the lines of (maybe) being appointed to, say, a 10 year term. Perhaps after that 10 year term, they can have re-confirmation hearings or something like that.

#20 Posted by JML897 (33125 posts) -

Just to restate what some others are saying, there are other options to lifetime appointments than general elections.

Although this isn't set in stone, I'm thinking about something along the lines of (maybe) being appointed to, say, a 10 year term. Perhaps after that 10 year term, they can have re-confirmation hearings or something like that.

Planet_Pluto

That seems reasonable.

#21 Posted by nintendofreak_2 (25896 posts) -

What about Judges from the State Supreme Courts electing (or having some sort of say) in appointments?

#22 Posted by DroidPhysX (17089 posts) -

Without any doubt. Putting a certain term limit on justices and/or making it a direct election doesn't enhance democracy or our rights. If these restrictions were in the mid to late 20th century, i doubt we would have these landmark rights that were decided by the Warren, Burger and Rhenquist Courts. Let's say there was an arbitrary 15 year term limit put in. That would of given the Nixon administration, in addition to the 4 justices he had already appointed, would of also replaced the court's fiercestprotector of individual rights, William Brennan. Marshall would of been replaced in the middle of Reagan's first term and the appointments of Scalia and attempts to appoint Bork don't exactly enhance people's rights when they're on the bench.

#23 Posted by ShadowMoses900 (17081 posts) -

I think everyone in public office (and that goes for Congress as well) should be limited to a 2 term limit and get put up for vote after 4 years just like the president.

#24 Posted by JML897 (33125 posts) -

I think everyone in public office (and that goes for Congress as well) should be limited to a 2 term limit and get put up for vote after 4 years just like the president.

ShadowMoses900

I think a 2-term limit would do wonders for Congress.

#25 Posted by DroidPhysX (17089 posts) -

I think everyone in public office (and that goes for Congress as well) should be limited to a 2 term limit and get put up for vote after 4 years just like the president.

ShadowMoses900
No. Direct election of judges is what the founding fathers feared since it would pave way for tyranny of the majority.
#26 Posted by thegerg (15406 posts) -

I think everyone in public office (and that goes for Congress as well) should be limited to a 2 term limit and get put up for vote after 4 years just like the president.

ShadowMoses900
That's kind of silly. Imagine if military Officers (for example) were elected every 4 years and could only serve for 8 years. Not only would such a drastic increase in elections be impractical and expensive, we would be preventing the most highly qualified officials from doing what they do best.
#27 Posted by ZumaJones07 (16458 posts) -
i'm the only undecided vote so far. :P
#28 Posted by WTFr0b0ts (70 posts) -

Well seeing as all article III judges (Supreme Court, Circuit Judges, District Judges) are all appointed for life because that's how the constitution is interpreted, its not going to change unless Congress amends it.

Truth is I like that they are for life as it helps the court not be subject to democratic whims and brings a certain stability to constitutional interpretation.

If justices were elected every XX amount of years interpretation would change for re-election and you would have justices campaigning and backed by corporations and what not. Since right now they sit outside of the direct democratic process, it allows the court to interpret the constitution with minimal influence so the can balance the powers and rights of States, Federal Government, and Individuals more easily.

#29 Posted by Blue-Sky (10330 posts) -

YES. The re-election process is part of the reason why American Politics is so corrupted.

#30 Posted by Communist_Soul (3080 posts) -

Life-time for sure too much corruption if they have to be voted into their position.

#31 Posted by Blue-Sky (10330 posts) -

Could you imagine if supreme court justices was subject to the influence of Citibank, Koch Brothers, The church, etc? They would be bought just like how our congress is bought if they didn't have lifetime appointments.

#32 Posted by nintendofreak_2 (25896 posts) -

[QUOTE="ShadowMoses900"]

I think everyone in public office (and that goes for Congress as well) should be limited to a 2 term limit and get put up for vote after 4 years just like the president.

JML897

I think a 2-term limit would do wonders for Congress.

We would have a constant influx of people coming into Congress with no experience at how to do the job. They would also know that they don't need to worry about being reelected if they got a second term and could really screw things up for their own benefit. That sounds worse to me.

#33 Posted by DroidPhysX (17089 posts) -

[QUOTE="JML897"]

[QUOTE="ShadowMoses900"]

I think everyone in public office (and that goes for Congress as well) should be limited to a 2 term limit and get put up for vote after 4 years just like the president.

nintendofreak_2

I think a 2-term limit would do wonders for Congress.

We would have a constant influx of people coming into Congress with no experience at how to do the job. They would also know that they don't need to worry about being reelected if they got a second term and could really screw things up for their own benefit. That sounds worse to me.

If there's anything that congress has taught me, it's that experience doesn't matter.
#34 Posted by nintendofreak_2 (25896 posts) -

If there's anything that congress has taught me, it's that experience doesn't matter.DroidPhysX
Sometimes. It wouldn't change the fact that Congress members would know they could pass/suggest whatever they wanted without any sort of backlash from voters though if they knew they weren't going to be up for reelection.

#35 Posted by coolbeans90 (21305 posts) -

Absolutely.

#36 Posted by linkin_guy109 (8864 posts) -

well....i can see why they are appointed for life, of the choices ive seen them make they have made the choices which i feel are what are best for america, you cant have the president choose the supreme court members, you cant have the publice choose the members either...so who exactly is left?

#37 Posted by Person0 (2944 posts) -

well....i can see why they are appointed for life, of the choices ive seen them make they have made the choices which i feel are what are best for america, you cant have the president choose the supreme court members, you cant have the publice choose the members either...so who exactly is left?

linkin_guy109

The president does apoint supreme court justices.

#38 Posted by Sunfyre7896 (1631 posts) -

Absolutely not. They're appointed many times based on political agendas of the appointers. They should be appointed and approved by Congress, but also only serve for a max of ten years. If they've done well, then they can be reappointed. Being in office for life smells of infinite power within reason. Also, at a certain age, they should be forced to retire.

#39 Posted by DroidPhysX (17089 posts) -

Absolutely not. They're appointed many times based on political agendas of the appointers. They should be appointed and approved by Congress, but also only serve for a max of ten years. If they've done well, then they can be reappointed. Being in office for life smells of infinite power within reason. Also, at a certain age, they should be forced to retire.

Sunfyre7896

>Implying term limits and congressional appointment will lessen political agendas

#40 Posted by stanleycup98 (6144 posts) -
I don't think they should be appointed for life, but they should never be subject to any sort of re-election or performance review. The point of the Supreme Court is to have a panel that has no party affiliation or are swayed by public opinion. As soon as you introduce a re-election or some sort of performance review, the justices are pressured into doing what they believe is popular and not what they believe if right. Elected justices would probably be the dumbest idea I have ever seen suggested. And that's not even considering the fact that the common people have no idea who the justices are. But then on the other hand, I don't think a life appointment is necessarily the best option either. The thing is, you want a country to be constantly moving forward in the world. Depending on who the judges are, that may or may not happen. I don't mean to offend anyone, but if there were 9 conservative justices on the panel, it is highly unlikely that we would see significant social progress on the scale of having 9 liberal judges. But then again, you want to have a mixture of conservatives and liberals to not only represent the population, but to also balance each other out and make sure that wise decisions are made in the best interest of the country as a whole. I do think there needs to be some sort of faster turnover for the judges. Maybe a 10 year term and then they are done. Or 15 years. Something along those lines. But life may be too much IMO.
#41 Posted by BoSoxIdiot (208 posts) -
Maybe a 10-12 year term so that a President could not stack the Supreme Court in their favor.
#42 Posted by Mafiree (3704 posts) -
They should keep their status. Having to worry about political ramification when making a decision, that should be solely based on legal reasoning, would be sub-optimal.