Following news that an Ohio congressional candidate for John Boehner’s seat is pledging to serve for only a fixed term in Congress should he win, Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth released this statement:
Ohio Rep. Tim Derickson’s pledge to serve just 12 years in Congress is emblematic of the frustration many Americans have with the rise in careerism in Washington.
Nowhere is this trend more evident, though, than at the U.S. Supreme Court, where the average justice tenure has jumped from around 15 years before 1970 to more than 26 years today. The most recent justice to retire served for 35 years, and five of the current nine have served more than two decades apiece, with none indicating a readiness to step down.
To help solve this problem, the next nominee to the high court should pledge to serve a single term of 18 years. While that’s long enough to have a broad influence on the law, it’s not so long as to become feudal. A single, standard 18-year term at the high court would restore limits to the most powerful, least accountable branch of American government, increase the rotation of justices serving and broaden the pool of potential nominees.
If Ohio Rep. Derickson becomes U.S. Rep. Derickson, given his support for congressional term limits, he should also endorse ending life tenure at the high court as a means of reining in the third branch’s ascendant power.