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New FTC Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Want Term Limits for SCOTUS

***View the toplines and crosstabs***

Trump voters support SCOTUS term limits in general, 72%-12%, and 18-year terms, 67%-12%

 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a new survey released today for Fix the Court, national polling firm McLaughlin & Associates found that 66 percent of respondents favor term limits for Supreme Court justices, with only 16 percent opposed.

When asked if they would support a change from lifetime appointments to 18 year fixed terms, 63 percent of respondents said yes, as opposed to 16 percent who opposed. The poll of 1,000 likely 2018 voters was taken Dec. 3-7, 2016.

While support for Supreme Court term limits from self-identified Republicans (71-15) was higher than for self-identified Democrats (65-19), the largest net difference on the initial term limits question came from those who said they voted for Donald Trump for President (72-12).

Trump voters also widely supported an 18-year tenure (67-12) nearly the same as Republicans overall (69-14) and more than Clinton voters (59-20) and Democrats (61-20).

“The President-elect said time and again that he wants to remove entrenched power from Washington, and nowhere is the power more concentrated and unmoving than at the Supreme Court,” said Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth. “Any serious congressional proposal to end life tenure at the high court, then, should have wide bipartisan support.”

“President-elect Trump, in keeping with his message of change and draining the swamp, promised term limits for Congress if he won the election, and the voters responded favorably to that message. Similarly, two-thirds of all voters nationally support term limits for new Supreme Court justices,” said John McLaughlin, CEO of McLaughlin & Associates.

Fix the Court expects several proposals aimed at placing term limits on members of Congress to be introduced next month, though it is unclear at this point if any of them will include a term-limit provision for future Supreme Court justices.

The last 10 justices to leave the court (Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Sandra Day O’Connor, William Rehnquist, Harry Blackmun, Byron White, Thurgood Marshall, William Brennan and Lewis Powell) averaged nearly 27 years of SCOTUS tenure and were close to 81, on average, at the time of their resignation or death in office.

The four longest-serving current justices – Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer – will reach a total combined tenure of 100 years at the high court in January and have an average age of nearly 78.

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