Lifetime appointment for Supreme Court justices
For quite an extended period, the Supreme Court justices of the United States have lifetime tenure unless they retire, resign, retire, or are removed from office for impeachment. The initial reason for giving justices and federal judges a lifetime appointment in office was to insulate the judiciary from being manipulated or influenced in any way by the other forms of government. However, the appointment is not entirely lifetime as it can be terminated if a judge commits a crime. It is an uncommon constitutional arrangement as many democracies set strict term limits or enact a mandatory retirement age for their high court judges. People have recently argued that life expectancy and contemporary politics have changed from what Founding Fathers had envisioned. If a justice of the Supreme Court retires, the sitting president is tasked with appointing a new one. Since President Trump has been in office, he has made about two nominations to the Supreme Court (Dickinson, 2018). Some citizen views this as an ability for him (the president) to have some control over the nation’s Supreme Court for decades.
One evident pro of lifetime appointment is that judges are not swayed by public opinion; hence they can make decisions as per how they interpret the law (Worsham, 2018). And since the justices do not require being re-appointed or re-elected, the court gets its full independence. Therefore, it is true to say that judges are candid in their verdicts despite those who might disagree with them.
A good judge is one that has earned wisdom from experience. Benching off a judge based on age will be a shame. For instance, a judge is appointed at age 67, and the constitution requires him to retire at 70 years. It does not make sense given that the judge is still fit and capable of work. The set mandatory retirement age for judicial members seems not to be appropriate as people age differently. There are individuals whose age starts affecting their mental capacity early, whereas it might even never happen in others.
Cons of a lifetime appointment
Some people argue that the mental capacity of High Court Justice diminishes with age which can alter their decision-making on crucial cases. In most cases, after a judge is in office, they serve for up to 40 years, and unless they start falling ill, they cannot leave the office. The problem with this is that their old age affects their work, and they fail to see this.
Some people are so good at hiding their embezzlement and unethical behavior. Assuming such a judge is appointed, people will have to endure his misjudgment for very long unless evidence exposing his impeachment is unveiled. Also, a judge might be issuing verdicts that only seem to be wise to him alone. Maybe their interpretation of the law might not be biased, and if his appointment is for life, then people will suffer for quite long.
I do think that Supreme Court judges should be appointed for life and not on term limits, like the president and officials in Congress. Life appointment prevents the judicial system from being politicized. If term limits are introduced, judges will owe some leaders a favor, and with this, it will be challenging for courts to be independent in their rulings.
Dickinson, K. (2018, October 5). Why are U.S. Supreme Court justices appointed for life? Retrieved from https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/why-supreme-court-lifetime-tenure
Worsham, R. (2018, December 27). Positive & Negative Effects of the Supreme Court. Retrieved from https://legalbeagle.com/8498029-positive-negative-effects-supreme-court.html