Bill to Appoint Supreme Court Justices Every Two Years Threatens Judicial Independence

Amidst rising concerns over the conservative tilt of the Supreme Court, a group of Democratic senators unveiled a bill on Thursday that seeks to dramatically restructure the court.

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The proposal mandates the appointment of a new justice every two years.

These justices would serve in primary roles for 18 years, after which they would transition to hearing a select few constitutionally mandated cases.

Once a justice completes their 18-year term in the primary role, they wouldn’t retire from the Court entirely. Instead, they would transition to a more limited role where they only hear a specific subset of cases.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) stated, “The Supreme Court faces a deepening crisis of trust, which is accentuated by decisions conflicting with established legal norms and perceived ethical misconduct by current justices.”

He further emphasized that “fundamental reforms” are critical to rebuild faith in the institution.

The bill comes on the heels of revelations from ProPublica accusing Justice Clarence Thomas in receiving significant undisclosed gifts from conservative political benefactors during his tenure. Moreover, another inquiry revealed Justice Samuel Alito enjoyed a luxurious trip funded by a prominent conservative patron, where Alito claimed he stayed in a “modest room.”

As reported by The Hill, Alito argued earlier this year that Congress has no authority to force any reform on the court without a constitutional amendment.

“I know this is a controversial view, but I’m willing to say it,” Alito told The Wall Street Journal. “No provision in the Constitution gives them the authority to regulate the Supreme Court — period.”

This renewed scrutiny on court ethics prompted the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass a bill, strictly along party lines, urging the Supreme Court to adopt an official ethics code — a standard not currently required of the apex court.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) expressed concerns over “an orchestrated endeavor by conservative entities to dominate the Supreme Court,” facilitated by undisclosed billionaire donations. He asserted that “implementing term limits and biennial appointments would make the Court more reflective of societal values while safeguarding judicial independence.”

The proposed reforms, championed by senators including Booker, Whitehouse, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), are co-supported by other prominent Democratic senators.

However, they have met stiff opposition from congressional Republicans and certain court members, particularly Justices Thomas and Alito.


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