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» http://legalaffairs.org/howappealing/031205.html#000732 from How Appealing
"The Becker-Posner Blog" examines the subject of judicial term limits: You can access Seventh Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner's discussion here, and Professor Gary S. Becker's discussion here. Some may recall that I asked Judge Posner if he was ready... [Read More]

» Posner on election of judges from PointOfLaw Forum
"[M]ost state judges are elected, and for a variety of reasons this is an unsatisfactory method of judicial appointment, used nowhere else, as far as I know, in the world," he writes. Judge Posner's blog partner Gary Becker, meanwhile, comments... [Read More]


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"[P]ower corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Appointment for life to a national political office lends itself too easily to abuses of power. In a nation of 295 million people, isn't it strange that 9 people have so much authority?"

Matt -- In addition to Winfield's comments, I would point out that the Supreme Court's power is far from absolute. Unlike Congress and, to a lesser extent, the President and administrative agencies, the Court cannot act; it can only react. It can rule on only those issues that come before it. A majority of the justices may want to declare "In God We Trust" unconstitutional with all their hearts, but if no one has a "case or controversy" raising the issue that is then appealed to the Supreme Court, there's not a thing the Court can do about "In God We Trust."

I agree that it's POSSIBLE for the Court to become a tyrant -- by, for example, drastically relaxing the rules on standing, expanding what constitutes a federal question, and interpreting the Constitution to require or prohibit all sorts of far-flung rights and actions. But that has not been a problem. I would say there's not even a hint that that's a problem. Consequently, term limits would seem to me to create real problems in an effort to solve a problem that doesn't exist.


The problem with term limits for judges is what happens at the n-2 period of the judge's nth year term. Does he or she begin thinking about pleasing someone...like another large lawfirm, the executive branch...or some other employer.


Problems With Terms Limits and Problems With Life Appointment, while while different of course are nevertheless somewhat comparable because for every problem one can think of with term limits one can think of a problem with lifetime appointments of equal or greater gravity. Term limits, whatever their problems, may be better than lifetime appointments if only because at least the problem goes away sooner.


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