Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Term limits on the Supreme Court

Chapter 4 of Mark Levin's book The Liberty Amendment tackles the Judicial branch of Government( p49-50):

Section 1: No person may serve as Chief Justice or Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for more than a combined total of twelve years.

Section 2: Immediately upon ratification of this Amendment, Congress will organize the justices of the Supreme Court as equally possible into three classes, with the justices assigned to each class in reverse seniority order, with the most senior justices in the earliest classes. The terms of office for the justices in the First Class will expire a the end of the fourth year following the ratification of this Amendment, the terms for the justices in the Second Class will expire at the end of the eighth year, and of the Third Class at the end of the twelfth Year, so that one-third of the justices may be chosen every fourth Year.

Section 3: When a vacancy occurs in the Supreme Court the President shall nominate a new justice who, with the approval of a majority of the Senate, shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term. Justices who fill a vacancy for longer than half of an unexpired term may not be nominated to a full term.

Section 4: Upon three-fifths vote of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Congress may override a majority opinion rendered by the Supreme Court.

Section 5: The Congressional override under Section 4 is not subject to a Presidential veto and shall not be subject to litigation or review in any Federal or State court.

Section 6: Upon three-fifths vote of the several state legislatures, the State may override a majority opinion rendered by the Supreme Court.

Section 7: The States' override under Section 6 shall not be the subject of litigation or review in any Federal or State court, or oversight or interference by Congress or the President.

Section 8: Congressional or State override authority under Section 4 and 6 must be exercised no later than twenty-four months from the date of the Supreme Court rendering its majority opinion, after which date Congress and the States are prohibited from exercising the override.

Thus far I have been on board completely with Levin as to Amendments needing to be added that will lead us to more freedom and control over our lives. When I read this chapter the first time my knee jerk reaction was yes. I do like the notion of term limits on Justices while at the same time I struggle with the notion that 9 people can make decisions that drastically impact our lives.

With our country becoming more and more polarized, we have seen - especially in my life time - the courts outcomes are not based on Constitutional limitations rather by judicial review. That judicial review has turned the courts into a defacto legislature. The fact that 9 humans cloaked in black robes will judge cases in the purview, limited by the Constitution originally and later expanded in Marbury v Madison, without error is a fallacy. Humans by our very nature are flawed thus the 9 Justices are flawed despite their education and training.

Adding another layer that gives Congress more check and balance on the Judicial system while also allowing the States that same authority is interesting. What makes this additional twist more interesting is the limitations that Congress and the States have to override a decision.