On Tuesday, a group of House Democrats introduced the Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization (TERM) Act, which would impose term limits on Supreme Court justices and, they say, will “restore legitimacy and independence to the nation’s highest court.”
“The legislation […] would authorize the president to nominate Supreme Court justices every two years — in the first and third years after a presidential election,” explains The Hill. Under this legislation, justices would serve a maximum of 18 years on the bench.
Wait a minute. According to Article III Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court justices have a lifetime appointment. This can’t be changed without a constitutional amendment. And trust me, that’s not gonna happen.
Oh, but House Democrats are shifty indeed, and think they’ve found a loophole. Under their proposed legislation, justices would assume “senior status” on the court after serving 18 years.
Now, let’s be honest here–this legislation has virtually zero chance of passing. I dare say it would be DOA in the Senate, and it’s arguable whether it would even pass the House. But, this legislation passing and becoming law (where it would inevitably be thrown out in the courts) isn’t really the point, is it? This is the Democrats trying to exploit outrage over the overturning of Roe v. Wade and keeping the issue in the forefront as much as possible before the midterm elections in November. It’s an amusing strategy, and it makes sense that Democrats think this is something that will work for them. Why? Because recent polling shows that a majority of Americans favor term limits for Supreme Court justices.
This week, an AP/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, which overturned Roe v. Wade, 67% of Americans favor term limits, including 82% of Democrats and 57% of Republicans. The same poll found that 43% of Americans say they have “hardly any” confidence in the court, which is up from 27% three months ago. Of course, this is exactly why judges and justices were given lifetime appointments—to assure their independence from political pressure and public opinion.
Considering that the overturning of Roe v. Wade hasn’t really moved the needle significantly in the Democrats’ direction, does anyone really believe this strategy will work. If abortion rights couldn’t swing the generic polls to the Democrats, there’s no reason to believe “term limits for Supreme Court justices” is the silver bullet that will propel the Democrats to victory—especially when we have historic inflation and record high gas prices. If Democrats believe that how long Supreme Court justices sit on the bench is a kitchen table issue, they’ve got another thing coming.
Democrats have to come to terms with the fact that their biggest problem is that they are ignoring the issues that really matter to people right now. Abortion isn’t a top concern of the voters right now. We’ve seen this in poll after poll, and they still don’t get it. For far to long, they’ve joined in with Joe Biden in denying that inflation is happening and they will pay the price for that no matter what silly legislative gimmicks they try.