For Judicial Term Limits


Lifetime tenure for federal judges is a very dumb idea. The fact that anyone supports it is, in my view, just a pure example of status quo bias. If we lived in a country where the nine justices of the Supreme Court were serving staggered eighteen year terms (i.e., one new justice every two years) absolutely nobody would be saying “if only justices stayed on the bench until death!” The point of life tenure is to give the judges independence from short-term political considerations. But a long fixed term, combined with a reasonable pension, completely meets that goal and avoids the high level of arbitrariness associated with the current system along with the macabre spectacle of wondering when people will die and the goofy incentives to appoint justices who are as young as possible.

But if you’re not convinced by me, listen to Sandy Levinson and Scott Lemieux.