The life terms of the Supreme Court Justices have caused many debates. This paper presents an analysis of this issue and discusses the purpose and benefits of the lifelong terms. It also considers a contrary opinion on the topic and reflects on its flaws. The paper concludes that the life terms practice should not be changed as it is integral to the existing political system and corresponds with the purpose of the Supreme Court.
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The Purpose and Benefits of the Life Limits
The question of the life terms and term limits of the Supreme Court Justices causes debate in the fields of law and politics. According to the U.S. Constitution, Justices should “hold their office during good behavior” (US Const. art. III, sec. 1). It means that currently, they can only be removed from the Supreme Court by impeachment, retirement, or resignation. I believe that the existing practice is reasonable and should be perceived.
In my opinion, one of the purposes of the life terms is to prevent the Court Justices from interference from the executive or legislative branches. For example, if the term limits were implemented, the appointments of new Justices would become political by nature. Moreover, they would possibly make Justices dependent or loyal to the President who appointed them (Epstein and Posner 402). Due to existing lifelong terms policies, they are protected from political retribution.
Another purpose of the life terms is to ensure the stability of law enforcement. The Federal Government’s terms are relatively short, which means that there is a possibility for inconsistency in its decisions. On the contrary, the Supreme Court remains independent due to the life terms. The major changes in Justices’ interpretation of laws are also impossible because the cases of resignations and impeachment are rare.
However, the contrary opinion is also popular among the public. As an alternative to the life terms, the term limit of 18 years was proposed (Clark and Kastellec 512). This limit is designed to allow for new Justices’ appointments during each presidential term and to enhance the number of potential nominees. However, in my opinion, it does not correspond with the purpose of the Supreme Court, which is to provide stability to the government and eliminate the influence of individual political philosophies on its laws.
The Crash Course videos discuss the questions related to law, government, and politics, offering significant insight into the issues associated with them. The provided materials are notable as they present the analysis of judicial review and the factors that are involved in judicial decisions. For example, one of the videos explains how the Supreme Courts’ decisions are made, which is directly related to the class and the question discussed in this paper (“Judicial Decisions”).
It proves that the life terms cannot be associated with biased decisions of Justices, as they are not completely independent. Justices’ decisions are majorly influenced by the principles of precedent and stare decisis, which corresponds with the purpose of the Supreme Court (“Judicial Decisions”). At the same time, the life terms do not imply that Justices cannot be removed from their seats. It means that if their actions are proven to be harmful to the government, they can be impeached.
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Although there are many opinions supporting the implementation of the term limits, I believe that the life terms are integral to the existing system of law enforcement. They correspond with the purpose and values of the Supreme Court and allow for the consistency and stability of its decisions. Moreover, the life terms of Justices ensure that their opinions are protected from the interference of the executive or legislative branches.
“Judicial Decisions: Crash Course Government and Politics #22.” YouTube, uploaded by CrashCourse, 2015. Web.
Clark, Tom S., and Jonathan P. Kastellec. “Source Cues and Public Support for the Supreme Court.” American Politics Research, vol. 43, no. 3, 2015, pp. 504-535.
Epstein, Lee, and Eric A. Posner. “Supreme Court Justices’ Loyalty to the President.” The Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 45, no. 2, 2016, pp. 401-436.
U.S. Constitution. Art. III, Sec. 1.