Should there be new appointments and term limits on the Supreme Court?

Awaiting Vote
Bill Summary

This bill establishes 18-year terms for Supreme Court Justices. Specifically, this bill requires the President to appoint a Supreme Court Justice every 2 years. If the appointment of a new Justice results in more than nine Justices on the Court, the nine most junior justices will make up the official judicial panel. Any Justice who has served on the court for more than 18 years must retire from regular service but can remain on the Supreme Court as a Senior Justice. These Senior Justices can perform duties assigned to them by the Chief Justice. In the event of a vacancy on the Court, the Chief Justice will assign the most recently designated Senior Justice to serve on the panel until a new appointment. No Justice appointed before the passage of this bill is subject to forced retirement. Separately, the Senate will waive its authority to confirm a Supreme Court Justice if it does not act within 120 days of a Justice’s nomination. Sponsor: Rep. Ro Khanna (Democrat, California, District 17) View full bill text ➔

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Opponents say

•    "I believe that Americans benefit from having life tenure for Supreme Court justices since judges are insulated from political influence over their actions." Source: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California)

•    "I don’t like it…I like to have somebody as insulated from politics as possible, I think the system has worked well. I don't see a need to change it. The reason they're talking about changing it is because, you know, Democrats lost elections, which have consequences." Source: Sen. Lindsey Graham (Republican, South Carolina)

•    "The Biden Administration has failed to take the first step to minimize any negative impact on the separation of powers or judicial independence. Instead, the [Biden Administration Commission to reform the Supreme Court] will likely contribute to the general notion that something is wrong with the Supreme Court, and that some kind of reform is needed for some reason." Source: The Heritage Foundation

Proponents say

•    "The high-stakes confirmation hearings that occur every time there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court undermine the reputation of our highest judicial body…There is broad support among the American people for reform and this bill would be a meaningful step towards standardizing and democratizing the Supreme Court." Source: Rep. Ro Khanna (Democrat, California, District 17)

•    "For many Americans, the Supreme Court is a distant, secretive, unelected body that can make drastic changes in their lives without any accountability…The Court’s recent actions overturning the CDC eviction moratorium, attacking voting rights and women's reproductive freedoms, and preventing the President from exercising his clear authority to determine refugee admission policies show how much partisan polarization has become the driving force behind the justices’ decisions. I have long supported reforming the Supreme Court to limit terms to end lifetime tenures, and our bill would achieve this and restore some balance to a heavily politicized Court." Source: Rep. Don Beyer (Democrat, Virginia, District 8)