Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Proposals to Modify Supreme Court Justices’ Tenure: Legal Considerations

CRS – Proposals to Modify Supreme Court Justices’ Tenure: Legal Considerations, March 24, 2021: “To insulate the federal judiciary from political influence, the Constitution specifies that Supreme Court Justices “shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour.” While the Constitution does not define “good Behaviour,” the prevailing interpretation is that Congress cannot remove Supreme Court Justices from office except via impeachment. Thus, under existing law and longstanding historical practice, Supreme Court Justices generally enjoy life tenure. Some maintain that life tenure for Supreme Court Justices promotes important values, including judicial independence and expertise. Others support establishing age or term limits for Supreme Court Justices for various reasons, including regularizing judicial appointments and reducing the risk that failing health will negatively affect a Justice’s work. While many proposals to modify Supreme Court Justices’ tenure involve amending the Constitution, some maintain that Congress could impose term or age limits legislatively. While no court has yet considered that question directly, a court might conclude that the Constitution’s text, structure, and history prohibits legislative adjustments to judicial tenure. If Congress chose to amend the Constitution to alter the Justices’ tenure, it would have to decide how to structure that amendment. For instance, Congress could consider whether to impose an age or a term limit, as well as how long the Justices’ tenure will last. These options pose various legal issues that Congress may explore. Besides modifying judicial tenure, Congress could also consider other ways to influence the Court’s composition and operations, such as changing the Court’s size…”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.