The controversies over conflicts of interest and open corruption on the Supreme Court calls for the three Bush 1 and Bush 2 Justices to retire.
Clarence Thomas has been on the Court for nearly 32 years, 12th longest!
Samuel Alito has been on the Court for 17 years, the norm for Justices in American history!
Chief Justice Roberts has been on the Court for 18 years, the norm for the last three Chief Justices, and only three Chief Justices in the 19th century have served longer!
There is a dire need for term limits on the Court, as 18 years of service would allow each President in the future to select two Justices in a four year term, and turnover is essential, as the Justices should not be regarded with reverence as if they are deities!
The latest revelation about Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch selling property to a law firm that has argued before the Court adds to the similar actions of Clarence Thomas selling property to a right wing billionaire, and makes clear the reality of ethical violations by members of the Court, who seem to think they are beyond reproach!
Add the nasty, arrogant manner of Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas; the ethical issues around Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh that have never been truly addressed; and the abuse promoted by Kentucky Senator and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in promoting a quick replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Amy Coney Barrett just weeks before the Presidential Election of 2020, while blocking the appointment of Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia nine months before the Presidential Election of 2016.
One could argue that except for Barrett and Chief Justice John Roberts, that all of the other Republican appointments to the Court are, at the least, ethically challenged, and screams for Supreme Court reform.
The Court is more extreme right wing than it has been since the 1920s, so there is now a strong argument to add members to the Court to right the balance, and to set term limits for future Court Justices.
Justices are on the Court for too long, with Thomas now at almost 32 years, and the all time record being 36, and with Alito at 17 years and Roberts at 18 years, which sounds like what the proper term in the future should be 18 years, with the idea that every President in the future, would have two appointments in a four year term, and there would be constant turnover over four plus Presidential terms.
In the midst of the controversy over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is the reality of how long he might serve.
There has been a trend whereby recent Supreme Court Justices serve much longer than historically traditional.
Right now, contested Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed in 1991 despite strong testimony of Anita Hill, has served 27 years on the Court, and is already number 24 in longevity of service out of 113 members of the Court in American history. He will be number 17 in two years and number 13 in four years. In May 2028, he would break the all time record of 36 years and nearly 7 months of Justice William O. Douglas, and Thomas would be just about a month short of age 80, and can be seen as likely, if he stays healthy, to accomplish this goal.
If one just looks at the top fourth of all Supreme Court Justices in longevity, a total of 31 out of 113, all 24 years or more of service, we find the following recent Justices, all appointed since the 1950s, are on the list:
John Paul Stevens
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sandra Day O’Connor
In the earlier history of the Supreme Court, the average length of service was about 15 years by comparison.
That is why the idea, proposed by this author two days ago, that a future Supreme Court Justice be limited to an 18 year term, allows for turnover, and prevents dominance by an ideological minority for decades, as now is threatened by Brett Kavanaugh, or another extreme right wing appointment by Donald Trump.
The controversy over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is a time to consider modifying the Judiciary Act of 1789, and end lifetime terms, and change to a maximum of 18 years on the Court for any future Supreme Court Justice.
It would insure in the future that we would have two Supreme Court appointments in any Presidential term, with the limit insuring turnover, rather than locking in a one sided Supreme Court, which can distort constitutional law and interpretation in a detrimental fashion.
Right now, in 2018, we have the danger of locking in a five member right wing Court that could last for 20-30 years, and the Court should, ideally, be a balanced Court, with some liberals, some moderates, and some conservatives, which normally was the way it was most of our history, but now seems a distant dream.
While there is an argument for longer terms, based on specific Justices being considered significant and admired by many, it still makes sense that we have a maximum of 18 years on the Court, and that way, the likelihood of having Justices at advanced ages, in the late 70s and early 80s, is much less likely to occur.
And one must realize that since most Justices come in modern times from the Circuit Courts, it means the average Justice would have a long judicial career, and if coming from an executive or legislative branch background, rare but has occurred in the past, that a Justice’s total career in public service will have been a long one.