Think Piece on the Supreme Court
In my opinion there is a lot wrong with way the three branches of our government are functioning.
The executive branch has been occupied by incompetent presidents for too long – at least one of whom had absolutely no management experience before assuming the presidency. All recent presidents have usurped too much power and have battled the other two branches to gain more.
Members of the legislative branch accomplish very little because they spend a majority of their time doing things to get reelected rather than accomplishing the things they promised their constituents. And, as incumbents, they tend to get re-elected over and over again. I don’t think the founders intended members of congress to make a career out of government.
I hope to address these in the future. For this think piece I will focus on the judicial branch – in particular the Supreme Court.
So what is wrong with the Supreme Court?
Here’s a list:
- Appointments are for life. While the constitution grants Congress the power to impeach and remove judges, short of this there is no effective recourse. A judge remains on the court until he/she dies or resigns (which rarely happens). And I can see no advantage to appointments being for life. As Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps… and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control” A stated term limit – say 12 years – would be better.
- There is no regular or natural occurrence to appointments. Mark Levin, in his book The Liberty Amendments has a suggestion that is worth considering. Organize the justices of the Supreme Court into 3 classes with 3 justices in each class. (That works out great for a Supreme Court of 9 justices.) How it is first organized is a detail for another time. A result is that one-third of the justices may be chosen every fourth year. This nicely coincides with the length of a presidential term. After a settling in period, during a term a President would get to appoint three new justices. It is worth recalling the fact that the term of senators is organized into three classes with one-third of the senators chosen every two years.
- There is no way to override a majority opinion rendered by the Supreme Court. Levin suggests two ways to do this. One, upon three-fifths vote of both houses of congress (not subject to a Presidential veto) and/or another, upon three-fifths vote of the several state legislatures. This addresses my concern that with the majority of 5 justices having the final word on constitutional matters comes down to selecting those five justices.
I am especially concerned about justices who make decisions on the basis of political ideology rather than logic and judgement. Not only is the Supreme Court guilty of this but even more so the lower courts, particularly those circuit courts that have become known for political bias.