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Breyer Reaffirms His Support for Term Limits for Justices

By Amanda Dworkin, FTC law clerk

In a conversation with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff last month, Justice Stephen Breyer again voiced his support for Supreme Court term limits “as long as the term is long.”

After refusing to comment on the “political partisan atmosphere” of the confirmation hearings, Breyer explained his approval for long term limits. (The text of the interview is below; it begins at 7:05 in this video.)

Woodruff: “You said in April of last year that you wouldn’t mind seeing term limits imposed on Supreme Court justices as long as they were long, and you mentioned 18 years. Do you still hold that view?”

Breyer: “That was a number pulled out of a hat; I’m asked that many times. It would be just as good to have very long terms. Yeah, that’s fine, as long as the term is long. What I was thinking of when I’m asked the question is that you don’t want someone in this job, that I have now, thinking of what his or her next job will be, and that is why it has to be a long term.”

Breyer has previously spoken positively about SCOTUS term limits, along with Justice Kagan and Chief Justice Roberts.

This view is in line with most Americans – both Democrats and Republicans – and is reflected in the text of the recently introduced Supreme Court Term Limits Act.

Woodruff is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which released a report in June saying that 18-year SCOTUS term limits, created by statute, was one of the reforms needed to improve the health of American democracy.

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