Term of Supreme Court Justice

October 18th, 2018 at 12:05:58 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 859
Posts: 10231
The Median term length of a Supreme Court Justice was remarkably similar for justices that retired in the first century of the country compared to the second century.
For the last half century they have been staying in their position more than a decade longer. More often they retire today instead of die in office.(Rehnquist and Scalia)

Days Years
5,305 14.5 Median number of days/years 31 Supreme court Justices from Independence and retired before 1870
5,166 14.1 Median number of days/years 58 Supreme court Justices from retired in 1870 and before 1970
9,813 26.9 Median number of days/years 16 Supreme court Justices from retired after 1970 up through Kennedy

By the standard since 1970, the current justices are serving normal length terms. Clarence Thomas is about to celebrate 27 years in office (October 23, 1991)

Some people want to modify the constitution so the a justice gets a limited term (18 years is often suggested).

Usually a rule change does not apply to current occupants of the office, so such a change could take decades to have an impact.
26.97 Clarence Thomas
25.17 Ruth Bader Ginsburg
24.19 Stephen Breyer

Anyone agree? Is this a solution in search of a problem?
October 18th, 2018 at 12:10:44 AM permalink
Evenbob
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 121
Posts: 15799
Quote: Pacomartin


Anyone agree? Is this a solution in search of a problem?


I heard this explained awhile back. They
have lifetime terms so they don't
develop political connections to any one
administration.
If you take a risk, you may lose. If you never take a risk, you will always lose.
October 18th, 2018 at 3:49:16 AM permalink
Fleastiff
Member since: Oct 27, 2012
Threads: 54
Posts: 6509
Tenure of office does not work in schools, civil service, any court system or anywhere else.
October 18th, 2018 at 5:35:05 AM permalink
Wizard
Administrator
Member since: Oct 23, 2012
Threads: 206
Posts: 4889
I haven't considered this issue, so don't have a strong opinion. In general, I like to say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Unless some kind of dementia is involved, I think people get wiser as they get older. I would not want to ditch an otherwise good judge because his 18 years were up. I also can't think of any judge on the Supreme Court I don't like because he/she is too old.
Knowledge is Good -- Emil Faber
October 18th, 2018 at 5:44:09 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 859
Posts: 10231
Quote: Evenbob
They have lifetime terms so they don't develop political connections to any one administration.


Well 18 years is usually considered long enough so that one political party is unlikely to hold the Presidency that long. On the other hand of the 16 judges that have retired since 1970 only three left in under 18 years.
  1. 15.5 Lewis Franklin Powell
  2. 16.5 John Marshall Harlan II
  3. 17.3 Warren E. Burger   (CJ)
  4. 18.7 David Souter
  5. 22.7 Potter Stewart
  6. 24.0 Thurgood Marshall
  7. 24.2 Harry Blackmun
  8. 24.4 Sandra Day O'Connor
  9. 29.4 Antonin Scalia
  10. 30.4 Anthony Kennedy
  11. 31.2 Byron White
  12. 33.7 William Rehnquist   (CJ)
  13. 33.8 William J. Brennan Jr.
  14. 34.1 Hugo Black
  15. 34.5 John Paul Stevens
  16. 36.6 William O. Douglas


I think the idea is to develop some regular procedures with regard to the SC nominations. Right now the Senate is in complete control of the timeline.

Hypothetically if the Democrats gain control of the Senate in 2020 and DJT wins a second term, the Senate could refuse to look at a single nomination over the entire four years. They would be perfectly legal. The size of the SCOTUS would simply drop by one with every justice who resigns.

The Senate is also constitutionally required to give a written reason for not recommending a candidate. While I suppose it is technically possible to simply write that we don't want him because the President is from an opposite party, I think such a simple admission would be political suicide.

It is insane that there is not a timeline. If the President proposes someone for a position, and the Senate does not act in 60 days, the President's nomination should be automatically approved. Normally there is a timeline. For example The President returns the unsigned legislation to the originating house of Congress within a 10 day period usually with a memorandum of disapproval or a “veto message.” If he simply does nothing then the legislation passes.
October 18th, 2018 at 6:38:00 AM permalink
AZDuffman
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 111
Posts: 8773
Quote: Pacomartin


It is insane that there is not a timeline. If the President proposes someone for a position, and the Senate does not act in 60 days, the President's nomination should be automatically approved. Normally there is a timeline. For example The President returns the unsigned legislation to the originating house of Congress within a 10 day period usually with a memorandum of disapproval or a “veto message.” If he simply does nothing then the legislation passes.


Since the Democrats invented Borking, SCOTUS has become politicized and a nominee's politics are reason enough to reject them. Byt they rarely reject, they just make it so unpleasant that they withdraw. This is what they tried with Kavanaugh, but the GOP said "ENOUGH" and held out. Until the last year of Obama, the GOP did not make it political the way the Democrats did.

A time limit is needed for many things. Treaties, for one. Obama and Clinton signed treaties but never sent them to Congress because they would never pass. But we got bound to terms in many cases. Not just SCOTUS nominees need to be acted on quickly. Democrats made filibustering judges an art form under Bush. None of this is new, it is just getting escalated.

Alas, we are too far down the road to go back to the old days.
The man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it
October 18th, 2018 at 11:57:58 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 859
Posts: 10231
Historical Record

Since 1837 the court had been 9 members

Abraham Lincoln appointed 5 justices including a new seat bringing the court up to 10 total
Noah Haynes Swayne (1804–1884) 24. Jan. 1862 (38–1)
Samuel Freeman Miller (1816–1890) 16. Jul. 1862 (Acclamation)
David Davis (1815–1886) 8. Dec. 1862 (Acclamation)
Stephen Johnson Field (1816–1899) 10. Mar. 1863 (Acclamation)New seat
Salmon P. Chase (1808–1873) 6. Dec. 1864 (Acclamation)

After Lincoln died, two vacancies opened up for President Andrew Johnson, but the Senate would not allow Johnson to fill either. court went down to 8
October 12, 1864 Roger B. Taney  
May 30, 1865 John Catron

After U. Grant was elected he was permitted to take court back to 9 members
William Strong (1808–1895) 18. Feb. 1870 -- replace retiree
Joseph Philo Bradley (1813–1892)21. Mar. 1870 -- new seat to return to 9 members

Quote: Wizard
I haven't considered this issue, so don't have a strong opinion. In general, I like to say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.


Post civil war, the Senate could shut down a President for his entire term and leave vacancies for over 5 years. One may not call that system broke, but it means that the entire power rests in the Senate and nobody has changed it in 150 years.

Mandatory retirement may not be a requirement, but I think there should be time limits where people have to act or the default occurs. Almost all laws have time limits.