New York

Impose term limits on Supreme Court

David Childs, Johnstown


The angst exhibited by Democrats as the Republicans are about to confirm a conservative justice to the Supreme Court brings up the argument against lifetime terms for Supreme Court judges.

Well, those in power will remind foes that life terms are what the Constitution stated. How could we change that? As a matter of fact, that same document permitted slavery and prohibited slaves from voting. It also didn’t let women vote. Until the depredations of the Gilded Age, corporations were not regulated. Unlimited presidential terms were permitted.

After over 200 years, it’s probably unlikely that those in power would ever relinquish the opportunity to rectify an anomaly. Yet there might be ways to negotiate a compromise. If justices were given only 10- or 15-year terms, at the end, they could then be renominated.

Times change. Societal needs change. Leaving archaic nominees on the bench might restrain the natural evolution of the nation. For decades, Republicans chafed at seeing New Deal justices remain in place. They had no way of changing the tone. Today, Democrats are getting back some of their own medicine.

The cure would see Congress asking what’s best for the country. Isn’t that what those rich, white guys did when they wrote the original document?

A change in the term limits of Supreme Court justices wouldn’t be the end of the world. It might even be the beginning of a better, more equitable world. That’s what the authors of the Constitution hoped for.

David Childs


Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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