You are entitled officially now to consider your friendly blogger to be a constitutional originalist, meaning that the founders got it right when they established lifetime appointments for members of the federal judiciary.
Oh, but let’s hold on.
Some congressional Democrats want to rewrite the Constitution by establishing that Supreme Court justices are limited to serving just 18 years on the nation’s highest court. They don’t like the makeup of the current court and they want to shake things up in a way that, to my way of thinking, well could bring the framers jumping out of their graves.
This is a preposterous solution to an issue that is the result of the electoral process.
This term-limit idea comes from Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga. His bill also would require presidents to nominate two justices to the court during his or her term in office.
In a statement accompanying the legislation, Johnson attacked the current makeup of the Supreme Court, saying that the Court is “facing a legitimacy crisis” because of its conservative majority, and because five of six conservatives were appointed by Presidents who did not win a majority of the popular vote.”
“This Supreme Court is increasingly facing a legitimacy crisis,” Johnson said. “Five of the six conservative justices on the bench were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, and they are now racing to impose their out-of-touch agenda on the American people, who do not want it. Term limits are a necessary step toward restoring balance to this radical, unrestrained majority on the court.”
Let me make this point one more time. Donald Trump did not win the popular vote in 2016. President George W. Bush, though, did win the popular vote in 2004 prior to nominating Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito to the court. However, that misses a fundamental point: Both Trump and Bush won election to the presidency because they garnered more Electoral College votes than their opponents. Their elections were legal, yes, even though many of us detested the result.
The founders sought to de-politicize the federal judiciary by granting judges lifetime appointments. I will acknowledge freely that the courts have become political, however. As for the argument that Rep. Johnson and other Democrats have said about the court lacking “legitimacy,” that argument falls most directly on the head of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who should recuse himself from any decision involving Trump’s Big Lie.
Again, is that a sufficient reason to rewrite the Constitution? No. It isn’t.
The best way to bring needed reform in the selection of our federal judiciary is to elect presidents and members of Congress who will nominate and then approve federal judges more to their liking.
The system never has been perfect. Then again, the framers only vowed to create a “more perfect Union.”