Democrats plan to introduce a bill next week that would abolish life tenure for Supreme Court justices.
The bill would give each president the right to pick two justices per 4-year term and limit those choices to 18 years on the high court.
Reuters news agency first reported on the Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act, which progressive Democrats say they plan to introduce Tuesday.
“It would save the country a lot of agony and help lower the temperature over fights for the court that go to the fault lines of cultural issues and is one of the primary things tearing at our social fabric,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, California Democrat and a co-sponsor.
The other two House sponsors are Reps. Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts and Don Beyer of Virginia.The bill comes as Democrats are fuming over President Trump’s plan to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, solidifying a conservative majority on the court. This anger also has fueled demands that Democrats “pack” the court by expanding its size and adding their appointees.
The House Democrats’ bill raises constitutional questions, because the document grants life tenure to federal judges, both “of the supreme and inferior courts.”
Judges “shall hold their offices during good behaviour” (in other words unless convicted of a crime), Article III, Section 1, reads.
Mr. Khanna told Reuters that his bill, which is not a constitutional amendment as most legal scholars have argued would be needed to end life tenure for federal judges, is consistent with that provision because the appointed justices would remain federal judges once their 18-year high court tenure is up.
Once term-limited, the former justices would become “senior” judges and rotate to lower federal courts, according to Reuters. The bill also would not affect the tenure of justices currently on the Supreme Court.
“That’s perfectly consistent with their judicial independence and having a lifetime salary and a lifetime appointment,” Mr. Khanna said.