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Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

It is Time to Establish Terms of Office Limits in the Supreme Court

As+the+world+continues+to+evolve%2C+the+notion+of+lifetime+appointments+to+the+U.S.+Supreme+Court+stands+at+odds+with+injecting+fresh+perspectives+and+safeguarding+justice.+Enacting+18-year+term+limits+would+be+one+way+to+avoid+the+gerontocracy+associated+with+partisan+politics.+
Shaina Taebi
As the world continues to evolve, the notion of lifetime appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court stands at odds with injecting fresh perspectives and safeguarding justice. Enacting 18-year term limits would be one way to avoid the gerontocracy associated with partisan politics.

Disclaimer: the sources used in this story are primarily progressive, left-leaning sources. 

Picture this: a practically unassailable throne, defying the changing modernity of our times and undermining the democratic process, held for life. Within the heart of American politics, the Supreme Court of the United States, lies such a broken system that has grown to no longer safeguard justice. As such, it is imperative that terms of office limits be put in place to limit the exceedingly extensive power of the Supreme Court.

The Constitution’s framers outlined within Article III that Supreme Court justices would hold terms for life. Almost every other political position, including those within the House of Representatives and Senate, have terms of office limits between two and six years.

Yet there was a legitimate reason for this decision. Influenced by Montesquieu, who emphasized the doctrine of separation of powers, the framers aimed to shield the judiciary from the political pressures exerted by the executive and legislative branches, according to the Center for American Progress. The framers believed that political parties or factions could influence the decisions of the court, when in theory, they should be based purely on constitutionality.

However, today’s Supreme Court is highly politicized and extremely polarized along partisan lines, according to Stanford Law School

Today, term length limits can also promote diversity and representation of various demographics in the United States. Regular turnovers allow for more opportunities to appoint justices from diverse backgrounds, including racial, ethnic, gender, and professional heterogeneity, according to the American Constitution Society. Furthermore, terms of office limits may offer greater opportunities for demographic representation. With justices serving well into old age, evolving social attitudes and technologization may not be as well reflected in the Court. 

We call for the support of an 18-year term and one term limit, as proposed by California Senator Alex Padilla and the Brennan Center for Justice. This limitation allows for regularized appointments, so every president would have an equal impact on the Court, improving the “democratic link” between public opinion and the judiciary. 

Though some may argue that installing terms of office limits is unconstitutional, opinion pieces from USA Today, Bloomberg Law and CNN show that there are multiple workarounds. The most common one maintains that Article III of the Constitution, which grants Supreme Court justices their life terms, does not specify life tenure. Rather, justices may “hold their offices during good behavior,” a vague terminology that does not directly define the length of an office. 

Regardless of one’s political standing, the Supreme Court of the United States is by large a flawed facet of our government. With nine individuals holding incredible power over all walks of American society, it is vital that the makeup of the court be continuously changed to better reflect an evolving populace.

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About the Contributors
Michael Sun, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor
Michael Sun is the assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor and also a part of the business team for his second and final year in Pilot. He likes good Asian food, viewpoint diversity, and indie music.
Elizabeth Gao, Staff Writer
Elizabeth Gao is a staff writer for her first year on the Portola Pilot. This is her last year at Portola, but she’s honored to be writing for the Pilot. When she’s not stuck on a multiple choice question, she either lets her nine birds pull at her hair or she listens to Taylor Swift and tries to find as many lines from songs that help her understand her feelings.
Shaina Taebi, Backpage Editor
Shaina Taebi is the Backpage Editor for her third year in the Portola Pilot. For her final year she is excited to spend class time drawing more editorial cartoons and hopefully writing some interesting stories. Beyond the classroom she is most likely rewatching Hearstopper, screaming along to a Harry Styles song, or getting a headache from oil paint fumes.
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