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Seventh Circuit Judge "Intrigued" by SCOTUS Term Limits Proposals

A notable federal appeals court judge, who’s also member of an organization that endorsed SCOTUS term limits in a 2020 report, recently gave two interviews during which she articulated support for the idea that the justices should no longer serve for life.

Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Wood spoke to a Duke Law School podcast last week and to Reuters earlier today, both times saying she was interested term limits proposals, though she didn’t go so far as to endorse one over another.

“I would favor [an age limit for justices],” Wood told Duke Law’s David Levi. “A more intriguing thought,” she added, was 18-year term limits.

“The people who wrote the Constitution didn’t think that everybody was going to live to 90 and keep on serving as a judge because life expectancies just weren’t that high,” she said.

She added in email correspondence with Reuters’ Nate Raymond: “[T]he idea of an outer limit on a Justice’s Supreme Court assignments would bring the average length of service at the highest level back to what it normally was during the first 100-150 years of our country, life-spans being what they were.”

That an appellate judge would willing speak about the topic of tenure is telling, according to FTC’s Gabe Roth.

“The Supreme Court is wielding more unaccountable power, and its justices are serving longer terms, than ever before, so it’s heartening whenever sitting judges speak out about reforms that would reverse these trends,” Roth said.

“So long as the justices insist on maintaining their antediluvian tenure, ethics and broadcast policies, I hope this type of candor from other corners of the judiciary continues.”

Judge Wood is also closely involved with the American Academy of Arts & Sciences’ various civic engagement projects, one of which, “Our Common Purpose,” released a report in 2020 calling for legislation that would limit the tenure of future Supreme Court justices to 18 years. Fix the Court worked with the Academy on that recommendation.

You may recall that elsewhere on the fixing front that D.C. District Judge Reggie Walton said in May he’d like to see the Supreme Court bound to a formal code of conduct.

And earlier this month in her farewell speech as Ohio’s Chief Justice, Maureen O’Connor called on SCOTUS to put cameras in their courtroom.

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