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New Bill Limits SCOTUS Terms to 18 Years

Democrats plan to introduce it next week
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2020 9:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – Under a bill House Democrats are preparing, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would have had to retire in 2011—and William O. Douglas, the longest-serving justice in Supreme Court history, would have stepped down in 1957 instead of 1975. The bill, which Democrats plan to introduce next week, limits the terms of Supreme Court justices to 18 years. It excludes those currently on the court, who were appointed to lifetime terms, Reuters reports. Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna says it "would save the country a lot of agony and help lower the temperature over fights for the court that go to the fault lines of cultural issues." Recent polls have shown large majorities in favor of introducing term limits, which are already required on the Supreme Courts of every state except Rhode Island.

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The bill would allow each president to nominate two justices per four-year term. After their terms expired, justice would became "senior" and would be allowed to return to service on lower courts, as numerous former SCOTUS justices have done, including David Souter. This would allow term limits to be introduced without changing the Constitution, writes Gabe Roth In a USA Today op-ed. Roth is executive director of the nonpartisan Fix the Court group. While Democrats probably won't be able to stop President Trump nominating a replacement for Ginsburg, "they can join with their conservative colleagues who have long embraced the concept of term limits and ensure that never again will a superannuated bench determine the direction of our country," he writes. (Read more Supreme Court stories.)

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