THe controversy over the US Supreme Court has grown in recent years, with the Bush V. Gore case of 2000, where the Court, by partisan majority, chose a President; and the Citizens United case of 2010, which also, by partisan majority, the Court claimed that corporations and labor unions had the same right to freedom of speech in politics as did ordinary citizens, and has led to the Super PACs that are now distorting campaign finance in the Presidential Election of 2012.
That, along with the concern that the Court might strike down the Obama Health Care legislation by another 5-4 partisan majority, and the Strip Search decision of the Court this past Monday, also by partisan majority, makes many wonder if there is not a need for Supreme Court reform.
This is nothing new, as a century ago, during their Progressive Party campaigns for President of former President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 and Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette, Sr. in 1924, as well as proposals of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, suggestions for changes, including constitutional amendment changes by TR and La Follette. were advocated.
Of course, the constitutional amendment route is a very difficult one, and it could be a long road to necessary change, but even if not imminent, the changes that this blogger proposes are worthy of consideration, if not adoption.
These proposed changes would include the following:
A term on the Supreme Court should not be lifetime, but instead 15 years maximum, which in most cases, would mean the Justice would be over 70 at the end of the term.
No one should serve on the Supreme Court past the age of 80, with only a handful who have so served, including outstanding men, such as Oliver Wendell Holmes and John Paul Stevens. Losing such luminaries at age 80 is a shame, but no one can be considered as irreplaceable, as the President and the Pope are replaceable, as well as any other position in any government!
While 5-4 decisions on normal cases would continue, any attempt to override legislation passed by Congress should require a super majority of 6-3 to have such effect. Since we have a two thirds vote for a constitutional amendment to pass Congress and go to the states for ratification; a two thirds vote to override a Presidential veto; and a two thirds vote to ratify a treaty in the US Senate, it seems reasonable that a two thirds vote should be necessary to overturn a congressional law.
What these suggested amendments do is allow turnover on the Court more regularly, and stop the image of the Supreme Court as being out of touch with America, and as an arrogant, unelected group that can hold back progress!