Reps. Adam Schiff and Hank Johnson have introduced legislation that would allow Supreme Court justices to keep their lifetime appointments but be limited to 18 years on the high court.
The legislation titled the TERM Act would:
- Establish terms of 18 years in regular active service for Supreme Court justices, after which justices who retain the office will assume senior status;
- Establish regular nominations of Supreme Court justices in the first and third years following a presidential election as the sole means of Supreme Court appointments;
- Require current justices to assume senior status in order of length of service on the Court as regularly appointed justices receive their commissions;
- Preserve life tenure by ensuring that senior justices retired from regular active service continue to hold the office of Supreme Court justice, including official duties and compensation; and
- Require a randomly-selected senior status Supreme Court justice to fill in on the Court if the number of justices in regular active service falls below nine.
Rep. Schiff said, “Implementing term limits for Supreme Court Justices is a critical step towards restoring the nation’s faith in our justice system and protecting Americans’ fundamental rights and freedoms. Term limits will ensure that an entire generation of Americans will not suffer a further loss of their freedoms under a reactionary and partisan Supreme Court and that no future Senate Leader can stack the Court the way McConnell did.”
While the legislation has no chance of passing in the current Republican House majority, the TERM Act will be a top priority for Democrats if they win back the House next year.
Rep. Johnson said, Our system is broken, and Congress must act if we are to save freedom, liberty, and democracy for all. This year, I’ve introduced several judicial reforms—including the Judiciary Act to expand the Court and the Supreme Court Ethics Recusal and Transparency Act—and today I am proud to introduce another crucial part of the Court Reform package: the Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization Act of 2023, also known as the TERM Act.”
The conservative majority on the Supreme Court has been engaging in behavior that ranges from unethical to corrupt, and if Democrats return to having entire control of the federal government, Supreme Court reform, along with voting rights legislation, should be at the top of their to-do list.