Friday, February 18, 2005
This proposal just scares me. The theory behind the proposal is to somehow try to take politics out of appointments to some extent (i.e., to take away some of the incentive to appoint young ideologues to the bench).

But wouldn't this proposal just really incentivize attempts to reverse prior decisions by loading the bench with 3 or 4 true extremist over a few congressional terms? Appointing an extremist wouldn't be as much of a concern under this system because (from that party's perspective) they would only be serving 18 years or so rather than a life time.

The authors of this proposal summarize it (in part) by stating:

The proposed Act deals directly with the lengthening of service, gives equal weight in the appointment of Justices to each federal election, reduces the opportunities for individual Justices and Presidents to manipulate current arrangements to perpetuate their own predilections, and may have a beneficial indirect influence on the exercise of judicial power by encouraging judicial restraint. Yet it does not impair the independence of the judiciary from the political branches of government.
Proposal at Section C.

Someone will have to explain to me how this proposal would encourage judicial restraint. It would not hold any individual justice accountable to any other body or the public. All it would do is encourage a justice to try to accomplish as much as they could do in a shorter, predefined period of time. I would think it would cause more judicial activism. Justices, having reached the pinnacle of their profession, would have an incentive to create their legacy as quickly as possible.


Life time appointments have worked pretty well for the last 200 years. The problem identified by the authors of this proposal is not the judicial branch, it is the executive and legislative branches --- I think a better proposal would try to fix the problem and not one symptom of the problem.
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I am an attorney in Chicago. Politically speaking, I am an indepedent that tends to lean conservative on fiscal issues and progressive on social issues. I try to remain as unbiased and open-minded as possible. Please email or post any comments, and especially criticisms. If something I say is wrong, or you disagree - let me know about it!



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