With recent news that the Supreme Court may side 5-4 with the Trump administration on ending the DACA program and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returning to the court Friday following a stomach bug at age 86, many are wondering if the judges on our highest court need term limits. Asst. Opinion Editors Alyssa Story and Cristobal Spielmann go head-to-head on this debate.
If we're looking to curb political polarization and generational damage to the Supreme Court, term limits won't help. Members of Congress face two-year term limits, and those haven't stopped House Republicans from getting more partisan each election cycle. It doesn't help the case that the most vocal proponents of SCOTUS term limits are extremist presidential candidates, including anti-same-sex marriage advocate and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and dictator-defender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). You don't even need a hypothetical example of a court corrupted by the executive branch setting term limits; there are real-life ones. In Poland, the reigning anti-democratic party superseded existing term limits with a lower mandatory retirement age in order to force more than two dozen justices off the bench. We have a real problem: the Supreme Court is more polarized than ever. Four justices were appointed by popular vote-losers and two justices have each faced multiple sexual misconduct allegations. What we really need is increased accountability for our justices and increased independence for the court, away from the control of executive branch's political influence, not term limits.
This is the opinion of Cristobal Spielmann, a sophomore environmental science major from Brentwood, Tennessee. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lifelong appointments on the Supreme Court are both outdated and detrimental to the political sphere. Nowadays, justices are serving longer than ever and, for some, like Ginsburg, their determination to maintain their seat is for political gain. Being a justice on the Supreme Court is no longer about skill or pedigree, but ideology and political alignment. Politicians no longer care about the justice's record or their constitutional interpretations, but what the justice can do for them. Consider how Mitch McConnell decided to block Obama's 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland. Garland was well-regarded and had bipartisan support, but McConnell wanted to wait for Trump to take office and nominate a new justice that would align more closely with the Republican party. Garland would have been a strong candidate for the SCOTUS, but we ended up with Brett Kavanaugh after one of the most contentious confirmations in U.S. history. Limiting appointment lengths on the SCOTUS would put an end to the unacceptable practices surrounding appointments and tenure. We need to reevaluate the Supreme Court, and term limits is the first step.
This is the opinion of Alyssa Story, a freshman film, television and media studies major from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email email@example.com.