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Rep. Khanna on SCOTUS Term Limits

No sitting member of Congress has been as outspoken on ending life tenure on the Supreme Court as Rep. Khanna of California.

Below are excerpts from a Dec. 8 speech on the topic.

At 1:18:00: “Our founders never envisioned countermajoritarian [decisions] of the [Supreme] Court to be binding people 30, 40, 50 years after the original appointment. Think about that. I have young kids; people appointed to the Supreme Court today could make decisions 40 to 50 years from now affecting my kids when they’re middle-aged. That was never the intention of our founders. […] One easy proposal that would clearly be constitutional is to limit the term of the court. […]

“People come back and they say, well, if you have term limits on the [Supreme] Court, that defies the Constitution because the Constitution says a judge should be there for as long as there’s ‘good behaviour.’ […] But the Constitution never says that a judicial appointment has to be to the Supreme Court. You could have judges appointed for life, but that doesn’t mean the judge has to be a justice. So one idea is to have justices there for 18 years, and after their time on the Supreme Court, have them go on a circuit court and live under the laws and precedents they’re making on the Supreme Court.”

“This would not violate the Constitution because they are still judges for life, barring impeachment, but it would prevent the gaming of the system of having people appointed in their 30s or 40s, and it would also fulfill Jefferson’s ideal that people ought to live under the laws they make.”

Update: Here are excerpts from a May 2019 interview with Rep. Khanna:

What do you think about Supreme Court reform?

Khanna: I’ve supported Bruce Ackerman’s call for term limits. And I’m actually trying to get Republicans on that, and it would be the single biggest reform that would be constitutional. We could say Supreme Court justices could serve for 18 years, and after that they have to go down to the Circuit Court. It would make the stakes of each Supreme Court hearing less, and it would make sure we aren’t being guided by people who were appointed 30 or 40 years ago… Maybe we’ll have to wait until Democrats are in control, but it’s worth it.

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