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Thirty-One Legal Scholars Endorse House Dems’ SCOTUS Term Limits Bill

Today Fix the Court is unveiling a list of 31 legal scholars who have endorsed H.R. 8424, the Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act.

In their letter of support, they write: “We are pleased that a formal legislative proposal to limit future justices to 18 years of high court service has been introduced and is advancing public discourse on court reform. Though the bill is not perfect, we believe it to be a critical piece in prescribing how our country’s leaders can work to depoliticize the Supreme Court and its confirmation process.”

The Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act (link) – introduced Sept. 29 by Reps. Ro Khanna, Don Beyer and Joe Kennedy III – is the first-ever bill that would end life tenure at the high court for future justices in favor of an 18-year term, after which justices would serve on a lower court for as long as they wanted or would temporarily fill in at SCOTUS in case of an unexpected vacancy. Since introduction, the bill has picked up four additional co-sponsors.

“As the action on Supreme Court term limits moves from the halls of academia to the halls of Congress and possibly the White House, it’s critical to maintain the support of constitutional scholars, who have for decades been the most outspoken supporters of ending high court life tenure,” FTC’s Gabe Roth said. “I’m thankful for these scholars’ encouragement and am confident they’ll continue to play a role as proposals to rein in the most powerful, least accountable part of our government advance.”

Today’s endorsement list includes several scholars who supported the Carrington-Cramton Supreme Court Renewal Act in 2005, believed to be the first open letter calling for prospective 18-year SCOTUS terms implemented via legislation; the FTC-led letter to congressional leaders in 2017; and the 2019 letter from the start of FTC’s Campaign for Supreme Court Term Limits, which asked “voters, and by extension, those running in 2020” to support a policy to end to SCOTUS life tenure.

The list also consists of scholars who’ve written law review articles on term limits (Philip Oliver and Scot Powe) and numerous court reform op-eds (Norm Ornstein, Eric Segall and Mary Ziegler) and position papers (Caroline Fredrickson and Kermit Roosevelt), as well as those who’ve written books (David Faris, Lou Virelli and Artemus Ward) on Supreme Court accountability, or the lack thereof. Joe Biden’s successor in the Senate (Ted Kaufman) is also a signatory.

The full endorsement list is here, and a short description as to why we pitched these scholars is here.


Update (10/26/20): Carolyn Shapiro, Professor of Law at the Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, wrote us today to let us know she also supports the bill. She’s the 32nd scholar to endorse.

Update (11/22/20): Keith J. Bybee, Vice Dean and Alper Judiciary Studies Professor at the Syracuse University College of Law, wrote us today to let us know he also supports the bill. He’s the 33rd scholar to endorse.

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