Statement on House Speaker Paul Ryan Backing Term Limits
Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth issued this statement following U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s indication (at 5:30) that he supports legislative term limits:
If the people of Wisconsin wanted to limit Paul Ryan’s term, they would have voted him out of office last week or in any other even year since 2000. The larger problem with entrenched power in Washington lies at the U.S. Supreme Court, whose justices are now serving longer than ever and who are openly flouting best practices in public accountability.
When Ryan and his colleagues leave the country, an impartial ethics office must approve their travel. When they buy or sell stock, they must post their transactions online. When they begin a new legislative session, they must pledge to follow a formal code of conduct. The eight justices have none of these requirements. Further, they are the only high court jurists in the Western world who serve for life.
Ryan should capitalize on the intersection between his own policy views and the populist fervor captured in this election by pushing for an end to life tenure in our nation’s most powerful, least accountable institution.
Whether this could be accomplished by legislation or amendment is debatable. But the fact that Supreme Court justices serve for decades on end without any basic accountability measures merits reconsideration in the coming Congress.