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Term Limits vs. Court-Packing: Why the Former Makes More Sense

Our back-of-the-envelope calculation shows why we don’t need court-packing; we need term limitssupported by 68% of the country according to our latest poll –  where a new justice is added every two years and stays until all nine rotate through (i.e., 18 years).

Let’s assume that the current justices are grandfathered out of any new term limits law and that they’ll serve on average 27 years. Let’s also assume there are no retirements in presidential election years, and let’s begin the calculations in 2019.

2019: Roberts, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Soto, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh (9 justices)

2021: Term limits law passes, Ginsburg retires, add Justice A: Roberts, Thomas, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, A (9 justices)

2023: Breyer retires, add Justice B: Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, A, B (9 justices)

2025: Add Justice C: Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, A, B, C (10 justices)

2027: Thomas retires, add Justice D: Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, A, B, C, D (10 justices)

2029: Add Justice E: Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, A, B, C, D, E (11 justices)

2030: Alito retires (10 justices)

2031: Add Justice F: Roberts, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, A, B, C, D, E, F (11 justices)

2033: Roberts retires, add Justice G: Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, A, B, C, D, E, F, G (11 justices)

2035: Sotomayor retires, add Justice H: Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H (11 justices)

2037: Add Justice I: Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I (12 justices)

2038: Kagan retires (11 justices)

2039: Justice A retires (18 years after appointment), add Justice J: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J (11 justices)

2041: Justice B retires, add Justice K: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K (11 justices)

2042: Gorsuch retires (10 justices)

2043: Justice C retires, add justice L: Kavanaugh, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L (10 justices)

2045: Justice D retires, Kavanaugh retires, add Justice M: E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M (9 justices becomes permanent)

Supreme Court Term Limits Would Fix the Confirmation Debacle

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