Democrats introduced a bill on Tuesday that would effectively impose term limits on Supreme Court justices.
The bill, introduced by Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson in the House and Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in the Senate, would allow the President to nominate a justice twice during his term, in the first and third years in office, and limit the acting authority of judges to 18 years, after which their status would be changed to “senior” and they would be unable to vote.
The order in which the justices would be compelled to retire would be chronological; the justice who has served the longest would be replaced first. Should the law be enacted, Justice Clarence Thomas would be the first justice to assume senior status.
Justices who are of senior status are still entitled to their duties and pay but will not vote on cases presented to the Supreme Court.
“This is completely unconstitutional,” Carrie Severino, American lawyer and president of the Judicial Crisis Network, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “It would be like proposing legislation saying you actually only have to be 23 to run for president.”
Severino points directly to Article III, Section One of the U.S. Constitution that maintains that “the Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour” to dismantle the Democrats’ legislation. Only “bad Behaviour,” not Congress, can dictate a justice’s eligibility on the court, Severino said.
The introduction of the bill comes as many Democrats have criticized the Supreme Court as illegitimate after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“Five of the six conservative justices on the bench were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, and they are now racing to impose their out-of-touch agenda on the American people, who do not want it,” Johnson said in a statement, alluding to five justices appointed by former presidents Donald Trump and George W. Bush.
The Supreme Court of the United States should not have lifetime appointments. Term limits now.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) July 19, 2022
“It will never pass into statute,” Severino said, calling the bill an “act of show, not one of purpose.”
Johnson and Whitehouse did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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