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Necessity to End Life Tenure of Supreme Court Judges

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The 28th amendment should be that Congress shall put term limit of ten years on United State Supreme Court justices after which they would retire. An appointment for life results in hesitation from justices to take risks, violation of our country’s democratic ideology, prejudice in judge nomination, and inordinate length of powerful influence.

According to the U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section I, “The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior”.The term ‘good behavior’ is ambiguous. A judge not violating the law does not mean he or she performs to the best of his or her capacity. To keep their positions from impeachment, justices would not take chances and create revolutionary reforms. The justices wield a huge amount of power, and with lifelong appointments, they are free to push their personal opinion in irreversible ways that affect the everyday lives of millions of Americans.

The Constitution could not have anticipated in the modern world. Life tenure in 2019 means something very different than it did in 1789, when most people died in their 40s due to undeveloped technology. Throughout the majority of the twentieth century, the average Supreme Court tenure was around 17 years; by the end of the 21st century, it could be as high as 35. “The longest serving Chief Justice was Chief Justice John Marshall who served for 34 years”.

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In addition, life tenure creates certain bias against president’s picking decisions. Term limits would discourage presidents, eager to influence the Court for decades beyond their time in office, from prioritizing youth when searching for nominees. Instead, presidents could pick seasoned candidates who are skilled and are equipped to do the job best. According to, because federal judges and Supreme Court justices serve for life, a president's nomination decisions are in many ways his most important legacy. Many of these appointments will serve long after a president's term of office ends. To put this in perspective, associate justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed by Former President Bill Clinton, a Democratic Party member; however, current President Donald Trump is a Republican. Clinton’s decision 26 years ago is still directly affecting American citizens at this moment.

Ending life tenure for Supreme Court justices would also promote the 'consent of the governed' ideology our nation is built on. The Constitution is framed so that each citizen has their voice in shaping the government. In recent years, the justices of the Supreme Court have ruled conclusively on such important issues as abortion, school prayer, and military tribunals in the war on terror. They decided one of American history's most contested presidential elections. Yet for all their power, the justices hold their offices for life. This combination of influence and obvious immunity from the law has led many to complain that there is something illegitimate—even undemocratic—about judicial authority. To create a balanced democracy, the Constitution limits terms for Presidents to 4 years, Senators to 6 and Representatives to only 2 years; making 10 year limits for justices is not an irrational proposal.

The viability of this amendment is high. Placing a ten year limit on the terms of Supreme Court justices is a concept that would modernize politics, be logically consistent with the rest of the Constitution, and make the decisions made by Presidents on the topic good for all Americans, not just for their party. One group who opposes it can be conservatives who are afraid that changes will create instability, or justices who don’t want to give up their power.

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Necessity to End Life Tenure of Supreme Court Judges. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 4, 2023, from
“Necessity to End Life Tenure of Supreme Court Judges.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
Necessity to End Life Tenure of Supreme Court Judges. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Dec. 2023].
Necessity to End Life Tenure of Supreme Court Judges [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Dec 4]. Available from:
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