Federal judges need terms


Carley Nail

The highest court in the land has recently undergone some changes. Two weeks ago, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement after serving for 27 years, according to ABC News. His retirement brings up the old debate of term limits for federal judges. 

Currently, judges appointed to any federal court serve for life, but they should be appointed and serve a term of 18 years. 

According to American Progress, the framers of the Constitution did not specify term limits for Supreme Court justices because life expectancy was much shorter then. By the time someone was appointed to the Supreme Court, they only served roughly 15-20 years. 

Today, it is not abnormal for a judge to serve upwards of 25 to 30 years. This is not okay. 

The longer a justice serves, the more disconnected they become from society. A lifelong term also causes judicial appointments to become more politicized. 

Serving for life is meant to protect Supreme Court justices from being drawn into politics, but it just makes it worse. 

A recent example was when President Barack Obama tried to appoint a Supreme Court justice at the end of his second term. 

Instead of voting on the appointment, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell blocked it, according to CNN.

If term limits were a reality, then this would be less likely to happen because the appointment would not be as long.

According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, if you pair 18-year term limits with regular appointments, it will allow each president to appoint two Supreme Court justices. 

This would cause the process to become less political and keep the court from swaying too far conservative or liberal. 

Appointing Supreme Court justices would become a collaborative effort between the president and the Senate and each generation would be able to have a turn on the high court.