How would the Supreme Court change if the new bill proposed by democrats is passed?
A new bill put forth by Democrats in Congress would impose term limits on Supreme Court justices and ensure that each president would name two justices.
Citing that the current “Supreme Court is increasingly facing a legitimacy crisis,” Democrats in Congress have introduced a bill to restore balance on the highest court in the United States. The bill would impose term limits on Supreme Court justices and entitle each president to appoint two justices per presidential term.
The legislation comes after a series of controversial decisions handed down by the Supreme Court including one that overturned a nearly fifty-year precedent that afforded Americans the right to seek an abortion without facing criminalization. And there are fears that the conservative majority plans to go further, overturning other long-held precedents.
Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization Act
A group of House Democrats introduced a bill, led by Representative Hank Johnson, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, called the Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization Act, or TERM Act. The legislation was co-sponsored by fellow Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler, David Cicilline, Sheila Jackson Lee, Steve Cohen, Karen Bass and Ro Khanna. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has introduced the same measure in the Senate.
“This Supreme Court is increasingly facing a legitimacy crisis,” Rep. Johnson said in a statement. “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.”
Supreme Court justices would retain life tenure, but the bill would establish a term limit of 18 years for active service on the high bench. After their regular active term expires, justices would assume a senior status, whereby they would continue to hold the office of Supreme Court justice, including official duties and compensation.
“With all the harmful and out-of-touch rulings from the Supreme Court this last year, legislation creating 18-year terms for justices is essential,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Justices would be appointed regularly every two years as the sole means of Supreme Court appointments, in the first and third year after a presidential election. This would entitle each president to appoint at least two justices to the Supreme Court. The longest serving justice would assume senior status as the new justice receives their commission.
“We would begin to see a Court that better represents this nation and that better reflects the public whose rights it is responsible for protecting,” said Rep. Johnson.
The Supreme Court would continue to have nine justices
An idea that had been pushed after former President Trump was handed three Supreme Court judicial appointments was to augment the size of the highest court. This caused outrage among Republican lawmakers, not without a fair amount of hypocrisy, claiming that Democrats were trying to stack the bench. Last year, the 2021 Judiciary Act was introduced to add four justices to the Supreme Court.
Unlike that bill, this latest attempt to reform the Supreme Court would maintain the current size of the highest court by putting justices into semi-retirement. Should the court fall below nine justices in regular active service, the justice who most recently assumed senior status would fill in on the Supreme Court until the next approved commission, based on the entitled appointment schedule, was sworn in.
“We must address the crisis currently facing the Court in terms of its legitimacy and the public’s confidence in it. This legislation is an important step to restoring the Court’s important role in our constitutional system,” said Rep. David Cicilline, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law.
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