Supreme Court stay­ing power

Los Angeles Times - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Re “End life­time terms for the Supreme Court,” June18

As a dyed-in-the-wool lib­eral, Iwould love to see Supreme Court Jus­tices Clarence Thomas, Sa­muel A. Al­ito Jr. and John G. Roberts Jr. all step down be­fore they reach their 80s, but I think that Gabe Roth is way off base in propos­ing termlim­its for Supreme Court jus­tices.

Why would 18 years, as Roth pro­poses, be the right term? Be­cause it can be evenly di­vided by nine, al­low­ing for a re­tire­ment and ap­point­ment ev­ery two years? That seems sim­plis­tic, not to men­tion the al­most con­tin­u­ous wran­glings in the Se­nate over ap­point­ments.

There is also the irony of ask­ing the nine peo­ple who have been sworn to in­ter­pret and up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion to flout that very doc­u­ment by tak­ing a pledge to re­sign in18 years. Would such a pledge be re­quired of nom­i­nees? Would a nom­i­nee’s fail­ure tomake such a pledge cause sen­a­tors to vote against the nom­i­nee even though the Con­sti­tu­tion con­fers life­time ten­ure?

To para­phrase Spock, live long and pros­per, Supreme Court jus­tices, even those with whom I dis­agree.

An­drew Ru­bin

Ma­rina del Rey

There are two pe­ri­ods in a jus­tice’s life when she is most vul­ner­a­ble to cor­rup­tion: be­fore she has been con­firmed by the Se­nate— the pres­i­dent could de­mand prom­ises in re­turn for the nom­i­na­tion, and sen­a­tors could do like­wise in re­turn for their votes— and as the jus­tice ap­proaches the end of her ter­mand con­sid­ers her fu­ture prospects.

The “House of Cards” scheme in which the fic­ti­tious Pres­i­dent Un­der­wood tries to in­flu­ence a jus­tice’s de­ci­sion to re­tire for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons ex­em­pli­fies this sit­u­a­tion.

In Roth’s pro­posal, ev­ery two years a new jus­tice would comein and a jus­tice would leave. This greatly in­creases op­por­tu­ni­ties for cor­rup­tion in court de­ci­sions, the op­po­site of what Roth wants.

The founders got this one right. Dou­glas Bor­som


Ev­ery­thing is chang­ing, so too should the idea that Supreme Court jus­tices get life­time ten­ure.

Roth’s pro­posal of a sin­gle, non­re­new­able 18-year termfor jus­tices is a rea­son­able and cre­ative idea.

Ken S. Huang


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