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Breyer Says He Might Support an 18-Year Term Limit for Justices

It’s nice having friends in high places.

On Monday, Justice Breyer was asked by journalist Bill Press about his views on court-packing and term limits. After rejecting controversial court-packing plans, Breyer specifically mentioned the 18-year proposal as one he’d support. (The text of interview is below; it begins at 8:14 in this video.)

BILL PRESS: “Might you like a few extra members of the court? It has been proposed lately that we expand the number of members on the court from nine to 11 or 13. What do you think of that?”

BREYER: “I think nine is fine. I’m not speaking about anybody’s proposal. But I’ve discovered that nine seems to work. […]

PRESS: “As an alternative to expanding the court, others have suggested […] that we might consider term limits for members of the Supreme Court […].”

BREYER: “I think it would be fine to have long terms, say 18 years or something like that, for a Supreme Court justice. It would make life easier. You know, I wouldn’t have to worry about when I’m going to retire or not. […] And moreover, it must be long. And the reason that it must be long is because you don’t want somebody looking for his next job after — while he’s a member of the court.”

Justice Breyer, along with a majority of Democrats and Republicans, recognizes the appeal of term limits as an even-keeled method of improving the Supreme Court.

FTC’s Gabe Roth applauded Breyer’s statement: “A single, standard 18-year term for justices would reduce the politicization of the court, increase the rotation of those serving, guard against cognitive decline and broaden the pool of potential nominees. These are all positive outcomes, no matter where you sit on the political spectrum – and even, apparently, if you sit on the Supreme Court yourself.”

This is not the first time Breyer has advocated for Supreme Court term limits. He along with Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kagan have all supported term limits in the past.

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