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What U.S. Senators Have Said About Supreme Court Term Limits

OPEN TO THE IDEA

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jan. 22, 2019:
“[Term limits or adding justices] are interesting ideas that I would need to think more about. ” [LINK]

*Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), Dec. 6, 2018:
“I would sure love to have the debate [over Supreme Court term limits.] I don’t know exactly how I would come down, but it’s certainly worth talking about.” [LINK]

*Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dec. 6, 2018:
“The institutional stalwart inside me says no way, but, you know, we’re living in a different world, literally, than the Framers ever envisioned and maybe we need to think about it. I haven’t reached any conclusions yet.” [LINK]

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dec. 6, 2018:
“We have a real problem with a Supreme Court that has become increasingly political. […] There are a lot of different ideas on the table for how to get the politics back out of our court system and make the judiciary truly independent and representative of the people of the United States. I think we’ll be talking about a lot of different approaches over the next several months.” [LINK]

*Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Oct. 4, 2018:
“[Term limits for the Supreme Court] has been discussed. One of the real merits of that proposal, in the abstract, is that you could set it up such that every presidency had a certain number of predictable Supreme Court seats. So, look, there is some intellectual appeal to the idea.” [LINK]

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Oct. 4, 2018:
“It has piqued my mind. We are now in a situation where, at least for the immediate future and maybe forever, we are going to put people on the Court by the barest partisan majority. We will have to have a president and the Senate from the same party [for a nominee to be confirmed]. That is an incredible distortion in our system and it hasn’t been the way it’s worked until now. [Term limits] could be an answer to it.” [LINK]

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jan. 4, 2016:
“I am supporter […] of a constitutional convention of the states so we can pass term limits on members of Congress and the Supreme Court.” [LINK]

*Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), June 26, 2015:
“The Framers of our Constitution, despite their foresight and wisdom, did not anticipate judicial tyranny on this scale. […] Sadly, the court’s hubris and thirst for power have reached unprecedented levels. That calls for meaningful action.” [LINK]

*Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sept. 2012:
“But what if justices were not appointed for life? Or, more precisely, what if they did not serve on the Supreme Court for life? One way to foster a more circumspect attitude toward the Court’s role is to change the justices’ incentives in deciding cases. If they know they will not remain on the Court for an extended period of time, and that the rules they craft will shortly be applied by someone else, they may be far less likely to charge so eagerly into constitutional politics. Article III demands that judges be appointed for life, but it does not necessarily require that Supreme Court justices serve for life — provided they remain judges when not on the Court. […] The rotation of the judges on and off the Court could easily be staggered to ensure some continuity from year to year. Justices would thus acquire incentives for caution and moderation rather than judicial aggrandizement.” [LINK]

ON THE FENCE

*Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), July 2, 2015:
“[Though] lifetime judicial appointments aren’t perfect, the system is an important part of our constitutional design, which has thrived for more than 200 years. Any proposal to change it warrants the high degree of scrutiny required of amendments to our founding charter.” [LINK]

NOT SO OPEN TO THE IDEA

*Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dec. 6, 2018:
“I think the [Founders] got [life tenure] right when they first started the thing.” [LINK]

*Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Oct. 24, 2018:
“I believe that Americans benefit from having life tenure for Supreme Court justices since judges are insulated from political influence over their actions.” [Letter on file with FTC]

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Oct. 4, 2018:
“I don’t know if I want to go through [Supreme Court confirmations] more often than I already do.” [LINK]

* Denotes member of Senate Judiciary Committee

Supreme Court Term Limits Would Fix the Confirmation Debacle

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