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Lest You Forget: Here's Who's Been Talking About SCOTUS Term Limits

With so much bitter partisanship on display in the last few days, it can be hard to imagine much of anything getting passed in the next Congress. Supreme Court term limits might just be the exception.

In the last few weeks, leading legal thinkers across the political spectrum have coalesced around the reform as the best way to lower the stakes of the current confirmation process while bringing regularity and order to a process now characterized by chaos.

Not only that, but our bill to accomplish Supreme Court term limits was introduced, and has been gaining co-sponsors ever since (10 total now). Below, we’ve included a roundup of legal scholars, journalists, pundits and politicians discussing term limits. More are listed on this fact sheet.

“Rep. Ro Khanna Proposes Supreme Court Term Limits”

Ro Khanna (right), U.S. Representative (D-Cal.) (link): “Implementing term limits for the Supreme Court would be a step toward repairing and normalizing a process that raises the stakes of vacancies beyond what our politics, or the human beings who serve on the Court, can comfortably bear.” (Sept. 25, 2020)

“Kennedy Unveils Supreme Court Term Limit Legislation”

Joe Kennedy, U.S. Representative (D-Mass.) (link) “[O]ur country’s top constitutional questions shouldn’t be decided by a panel of jurists who are biding their time until a president of their choice is elected. It’s time to standardize and democratize the Supreme Court.” (Sept. 25, 2020)

“Make the Supreme Court Less Political. Put Term Limits on Justices.”

Pete Peterson, Dean of Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and Stephen Heinz, President and CEO of Rockefeller Brothers Fund (link) “It is fair to surmise that our founders never envisioned Supreme Court terms of 30 years or more.” (Oct. 5, 2020)

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is a tragedy. The Supreme Court’s rules made it a political crisis.”

Ezra Klein, Editor-at-Large at Vox (link) “Implementing term limits for the Supreme Court would be a step toward repairing and normalizing a process that raises the stakes of vacancies beyond what our politics, or the human beings who serve on the Court, can comfortably bear. (Sept. 18, 2020)

End the Poisonous Process of Picking Supreme Court Justices”

Steve Calabresi (right), Professor at Yale Law School (link) “This approach would end what has become a poisonous process of picking a Supreme Court justice. It will depoliticize the court and judicial selection, and thus promote the rule of law.” (Sept. 22, 2020)

“Andrew Yang in an exclusive interview says he wants Democrats to pack the Supreme Court and to put justices on 18-year term limits”

Andrew Yang, Businessman (link) “I suggested 18 year term limits, which would be plenty of time for judges to make choices feeling free of political influence, and would also depoliticize their appointments.” (Sept. 22, 2020)

Judicial term limits are the best way to avoid all-out war over the Supreme Court”

Washington Post Editorial Board (link) “This plan would also eliminate the incentive for presidents topick young and relatively inexperienced judges merely because they are likely to live longer. And leaders from both parties could tell their voters that they have ensured that the other side will never again get a lifetime appointment.” (Sept. 21, 2020)

“Set term limits for Supreme Court justices”

Boston Globe Editorial Board (link) “One sensible way to lower the temperature on appointments, and preserve the legitimacy of the court, is to establish term limits for justices.” (Sept. 22, 2020)

Why history shows ‘court packing’ isn’t extreme”

Nicole Hemmer, Associate Research Scholar at Columbia University (link): “Should Democrats win the election, they will have to fix this, too. That likely means court expansion, but also a raft of judicial reforms ranging from Supreme Court term limits to narrowing its jurisdiction” (Oct. 12, 2020)

“9 ways to reform the Supreme Court besides court-packing”

Ian Millhiser, Senior Correspondent at Vox (link): “Future justices could probably be term-limited, on the theory that they are being confirmed to a different “office” that only allows them to sit on the nation’s highest Court for 18 years before they are rotated onto a lower court” (Oct. 21, 2020)

“Now how do we reform the U.S. Supreme Court?”

Steven Hill, Reporter at Salon (link): “More than any other single factor, the lifetime appointments has been responsible for bruising and bitter confirmation battles” (Oct. 27, 2020)  

How A New Supreme Court Could Forever Change America”

Adam Winkler, Professor at UCLA Law (link): “I do think that Congress could be more assertive in its powers in a wide variety of ways that would tend not to necessarily limit the Supreme Court’s power, but do what the framers thought, which was counter power with power” (Sept. 23, 2020)

“Forget Court Packing: Only Term Limits Can Save The Supreme Court

Amitai Etzioni, Professor at George Washington University (link): “The way out of these difficulties is to make the terms limits retroactive. Such a law would immediately end the term of one liberal justice, Stephen Breyer, who was appointed in 1994, and a conservative justice, Clarence Thomas, who was appointed in 1991” (Oct. 6, 2020)

Packing the Supreme Court: How Biden should respond”

Keith McWalter, Ohio Attorney and Political Commentator (link): “Term limits (say, 18 years) for Supreme Court justices would reduce the intense partisanship that inevitably surrounds appointments to a lifetime position while ensuring a predictable freshening of the lifeblood of the court” (Oct. 27, 2020)

Ending the judicial Wheel of Fortune: The need for 18-year Supreme Court terms”

Mark Weston, Legal Analyst at ABC News (link): “The Founding Fathers gave Supreme Court justices lifetime terms because they wanted them to be resistant to political pressure, but 18-year terms are also long enough to preserve a justice’s independence…Supreme Court justices are judges, not monarchs. Eighteen years on the Court is enough.” (Oct. 12, 2020)

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