Wednesday, September 30, 2020
From Kalvis Golde at SCOTUSblog: House Democrats to introduce new bill for Supreme Court term limits.
With the debate over Supreme Court reform taking center stage in the 2020 election after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, three members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday will introduce a bill to establish term limits for Supreme Court justices.
Democrats Ro Khanna (Calif.), Don Beyer (Va.) and Joe Kennedy III (Mass.) unveiled the bill, the Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act, on Friday. If passed, the act would institute regular appointments to the Supreme Court every two years, with new justices serving for nonrenewable 18-year terms. After 18 years, appointees would become “senior justices” able to temporarily rejoin the court in the event of an unexpected vacancy. Although the current eight justices would be exempted, the two-year appointment cycle would take effect immediately, without waiting for them to retire.
The consensus of legal scholars seems to be that this is unconstitutional if done by statute. I'd like to be a contrarian and say otherwise, but I can't. Indeed, I think this is another example (as with the Vice President's tie-breaking power on appointments, discussed here) where the Constitution's text is clear, if read carefully and without a view to evasion.