In Monday’s paper, there was an article about changing the life tenure of Supreme Court justices. This is just another item on the bucket list of those who detest the 18th century’s political idea of placing speed bumps between the people and the power levers of government
The opponents of 18th century political wisdom succeeded by the direct election of senators with the 17th Amendment. The irony is the unintended result. Senators are elected by the citizens of their state, but some campaigns are financed by the entire country with millions of dollars. (For example, I donated $50 to Sen. Rand Paul.) Now, the elite are aiming at the Electoral College. Life tenure is not as important to them as the Electoral College, but to the self-appointed elite, the term "life tenure" represents an undemocratic concept that cannot be tolerated in this age of political correctness.
The first argument against life tenure is longevity: Justices are living longer and serving longer now than they were in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This is false as the following shows. Although life expectancy for the entire population was way shorter in 1789 than now, the average life span of the first 19 different justices at death was 68 years, way above the life expectancy table. Of the 19 justices, (John Rutledge was appointed twice and resigned twice. I counted him once), 7 resigned and 12 died in office. The oldest of the 19 to die was Gabriel Duvall at 92; the youngest was James Iredell at 48. John Jay was 84, Thomas Johnson was 87, John Marshall was 80, William Cushing was 78, and Smith Thompson was 75. In addition to a few justices living longer than expected, a few also served longer than expected: William Cushing served 20 years, Bushrod Washington served 30, John Marshall 34, William Johnson 30, Gabriel Duvall 23, Joseph Story 33, and Smith Thompson 20 years.
The second argument is life tenure provokes fear of an ill-considered appointment. The authors are thinking and writing bollocks! Every Republican appointee is ill-considered from the Democratic point of view and vice versa.
The third argument is some presidents get to appoint more justices than others. What a bunch of cry-babies. The voters always hope their presidential candidate will have the opportunity to appoint a supreme court justice or two. No, the number of judicial appointees should be left to chance. That’s what life is. Being at the right place at the right time.
Article III. Section. 1. of the Constitution states, "The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior…" No, unlimited terms are not dysfunctional and now is not the time to adjust them. We should wait until the 12th of never. Yes, the intervening 230 years have brought many changes to our lives, our country, and the world. Fortunately for us, however, Article III. Section.1 was not one of them. When one considers the state of the American electorate, speed bumps are a necessary good.