I am aware that at least some term limits on political offices are mandated by the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel like spouting off about some injustices that I feel are detrimental to our political processes.
First, I think that any elected official should only be given a single term. Crazy, right? The pandering and playing at centrism isn’t doing the electorate any favors, yet that’s exactly what so many in office do solely because they know there’s an election down the road and they don’t want to lose the money, perks, status, power, whatever. Take those distractions away, I say. Force folks to act more on their conscience by replacing their ambitions with the certitude that they won’t be in office once the term is over (and I’m not saying they can’t re-run, but it will have to wait until the term after next). The existing two-year terms for congressional representatives is probably too short in this scheme, so I would recommend extending it.
Second, the executive branch already wields too much power, but I’m not about to suggest that supreme court justices shouldn’t be appointed by the sitting president. What I will say is that getting the seat and keeping it for life is too much influence for any one person to bestow. I’m again advocating for a term limit, this time for the supremes, but for significantly longer than other terms, perhaps 8, 10 or 12 years.
Since it’s an appointment rather than an elected office, I’d leave it to the sitting president to decide to re-appoint a justice following the expired judicial term. The new term limit on the presidency will without a doubt play a role in whether the sitting president at the time of a supreme seat expiration may be offered the re-appointment. A president who is re-elected (after at least a four-year hiatus, of course) could potentially re-appoint a justice that she herself appointed initially. Of course the offer would come or not at the president’s discretion.
Some will of course think that the supreme term limit idea is radical, but remember that it’s one four-years-at-time person who gets to sway the makeup of the highest court for as long as the justice wants to keep his seat (that’s possibly up to 40-50 years of cases, if a justice were so lucky as to remain healthy and want to continue to serve for that long). That means one unpopular president could have an indirect hand in shaping the most important legislation for half a century. That’s too much power in one place.
I’d like to point out that I have absolutely nothing against a justice wanting to serve on the bench for a long time. It doesn’t matter so much if their decisions are popular or not with my personal political leanings. What’s important is that occasionally someone with a different perspective has a chance to evaluate if a justice has served faithfully (again, not popularly), and to then decide to re-appoint or not.