Recently, the subject of “Court Packing” has been in the news, because of the Trump administration’s perceived “packing” of the court with Conservative justices, which itself was the byproduct of the Republican Senate refusing to process President Obama’s nominees for the court during his last term. The imbalance this created has led to the desire for a return to balance, which is the goal of what we hear called “court packing” (which, itself, is a pejorative term creating bias — the real goal is a “return to court balance” of having an even number of Justices from each side). There have been other approaches floating around out there, most centered on the notion of getting rid of lifetime terms for judges, and instituting term limits. Here is my proposal:
- All nominees by a President for the Appellate or Supreme Court must be approved or rejected by the Senate within 90 days of nomination. Failure to act results in the nominated Justice receiving an automatic interim 2 year appointment to the position, after which the Senate must approve or reject for the Justice to continue in the position.
- All Appellate and Supreme Court Justices must have their positions reconfirmed by the Senate on every 11th anniversary of their starting in the position.
- All Appellate and Supreme Court Justices have a term limit of 31 years. At this point, a two-thirds vote of the Senate can extend their term for additional five year terms.
This would apply to new and sitting justices. This creates no new immediate openings, but does provide the opportunity for greater turnover in justices, and the ability to more easily remove weak or bad justices. By using odd numbers for the terms, this staggers the reconfirmation process across 8 year Presidential cycles, hopefully restoring balance as the political pendulum swings.