Limits vs. Life-Terms

Curtis Liu, Online Editor

With the recent nomination of Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court Justice to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a controversial debate between citizens of the United States has reaggravated: should there be a term limit for Supreme Court Justices?

As it currently stands, a Supreme Court Justice serves for his or her lifetime.

Since Justices are appointed around the age of 50, this leaves about 30 years of direct influence under a single Justice.

Some claim that this is too much power yielded to one individual, and the general consensus suggests a term limit of 18 years. 

There are several benefits in implementing a term limit.

First, judges of younger ages may possibly be elected.

If the “for life” term is lifted, younger Justices could be chosen to represent the younger generation without the risk of them holding their position for more than half of a century.

This directly benefits the youth of America because their perspectives will be reflected in Supreme Court decisions.

Second, there will be no politically motivated retirements of Supreme Court Justices.

Justices may choose to retire during a presidency in which the President has similar viewpoints as the Justice, therefore the Justice could retire and let the President appoint a new Justice with virtually the same viewpoints.

If the current President has an opposing viewpoint, the Justice can just wait until a President of similar viewpoints gets elected and retire when a suitable replacement is found.

Lastly, the term limits would better reflect the viewpoints of the American people.

In theory, this is similar to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “dynamic conservatism” principle.

His principle claims that political agendas should fit the current timeline instead of a timeline of the past.

This allows for a little more wiggle room in terms of acting on what the American people desire.

One con to having term limits on Supreme Court Justices, however, would include the fact that the Judicial branch of the United States may become more politically driven.

The Constitution originally sought for a subtle role for the Supreme Court, which was only to interpret the Constitution.

However, the term limits may cause Justices to play the retirement game, as mentioned previously.

With all of these points considered, I believe that there are more beneficial incentives for the American people if term limits were to be applied.