A Reuters/Ipsos poll confirms that Americans favor Supreme Court term limits. Currently, Supreme Court justices serve for life and can choose when they want to retire. Supporters of term limits argue that it is undemocratic for justices to serve life tenures while simultaneously not being held accountable to the public.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll proposed a 10-year term limit, which received overwhelming support from respondents at-large. Sixty-six percent of Democrats, 74 percent of Republicans, and 68 percent of independents responded in favor of the idea. Overall, 66 percent of poll respondents said they supported term limits, while 17 percent opposed.
Respondents were also asked if judges should be appointed by presidents, as is the current policy, or elected. Forty-eight percent of respondents voiced support for judges being elected to the position.
Five of the current Supreme Court justices have served for more than 20 years with the other four being appointed within the last decade.
Proponents of term limits contend that the political order has changed from when the justices were coming of age and to serve such lengthy terms limits democracy overall.
After the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage rulings in June, presidential candidate Ted Cruz said the court had “crossed from the realm of activism into the arena of oligarchy.” Cruz suggested the possibility of justices being voted out of office.
Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, explained:
“It’s not surprising that the Supreme Court term limits are supported across party lines since, as a nation, we’ve always felt it’s wrong for a handful of individuals to hold on to immense power for decades on end.”
Placing term limits on Supreme Court justices would require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The last constitutional amendment was passed in 1992. So far, this issue is not on Congress’ radar.