Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Winter 2019 - 15

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lead to more experienced nominees and reduce the randomness of
Supreme Court selections.
As of the writing of this article, only one of the nine justices
took the bench at the age of 60.xvii While this was extremely
common in the Republic when it was younger, it was also likely
one would die much younger in such times.xviii As it stands today,
the last six Supreme Court appointments could find themselves
at the top of a list of the longest-serving Supreme Court Justices
should they live the average lifespan of an American and refuse
to retire before death-a possibility less likely when William O.
Douglas and Stephen J. Field took the bench.xix It is obvious
that despite an increase in life expectancy, our justices remain
the same age or even younger than their predecessors. With so
many justices serving for longer periods of time, Presidents now
view Supreme Court picks as opportunities to forge a legacy and
reshape the Court for generations. Two examples are President
George H.W. Bush-appointed Clarence Thomas or President
Bill Clinton-appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg. However, with
an 18-year term limit, such a thought process would be moot as
the president's "legacy" has an 18-year ceiling. In addition, with
people living longer, there would be less risk in nominating older
jurists. We'd likely see more Ginsburgs and fewer Chief Justice
John Roberts as a reasonably healthy jurist serving into their 80s
is becoming more of the norm. The benefit would be choosing
attorneys with more legal, judicial, and life experience. For the
political class, it would give them a clearer picture of a candidate's
ideological and constitutional leanings.

Judicial term limits would also likely reduce Senatorial
partisanship in confirmation proceedings. While nominees would
still be subjected to contentious vetting and possibly still be
denied confirmation based on ideological disagreements, as in the
case of Robert Bork or Harriet Miers, the political calculus that
has led to blocking nominees, such as Merrick Garland, would no
longer be an issue. That's because the next election would allow
the winning party to determine the next two Supreme Court
Justices. The current system encourages holding open a vacant seat
until after a presidential election, which occurred with the vacancy
created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.
If the party that captures the White House is guaranteed to seat
two Supreme Court justices, then there's absolutely no reason to
stall nominations.
Finally, judicial term limits would reduce the random and
unpredictable appointment of Supreme Court justices. During
his six years in the White House, President Richard Nixon had
four nominees confirmed to the Court. Meanwhile, President
Ronald Reagan filled four vacancies over the course of eight years.
President Obama selected two justices over eight years. Entering
his third year in office, President Donald Trump has already
appointed two justices to the Court. The number of Supreme
Court nominations during any given presidential administration
is often pure coincidence. Nobody can predict when a death will
create a vacancy. And while justices may plan their exits from the
Bench during a certain administration, there's no way of knowing
when justices will ultimately step down because election upsets
do occur. The randomness of the current system means that late-

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Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Winter 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Winter 2019

Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Winter 2019 - 1
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Winter 2019 - 2
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Winter 2019 - 3
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Winter 2019 - 4
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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/BerksBarrister_Springr2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/BerksBarrister_Fall-Winter2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/Berksbarrister_Summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/BerksBarrister_Springr2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/Berksbarrister_Winter2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/Berksbarrister_Summer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/berksbarrister_winter2017
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com