No, Supreme Court justices don't need term limits

It is pretty clear, though, that through lifetime appointments, the Founders wanted to shield judges from the political pressures of the day. But an excellent byproduct of having ancient, long-serving justices is that they are far more likely to be impervious to the fleeting populist bugaboos and contemporary preferences that drive Ornstein’s cause. This should be about the long game. Justices may be bewildered by technology, but on the bright side, some of them still believe that protecting free speech is more vital to a liberal state than sticking it to some plutocratic oilmen. This upsets Ornstein greatly.

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Ornstein also finds it off-putting that the court is “increasingly active in overturning laws passed by Congress and checking presidential authority,” from which we can only deduce that he believes we need a Supreme Court to rubber stamp congress and expand executive powers. Seems to me that a court’s propensity to periodically “overturn” legislation (by which I think he means “find unconstitutional”) probably means its doing its job – though, not nearly as often as it should.

Even on a practical level, and even if I believed that Ornstein was perturbed by polarization and not just conservatives, his stated reason for term limits doesn’t make much sense. He argues that we can reduce polarization within the least political institution of government by subjecting it to more debate and more politics. He claims that 18-year terms would lower the temperature on confirmation battles by making the stakes a bit less important. Really? We have presidential elections every four years, does that seem to lower anyone’s temperature?

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