U.S. needs term limits for Supreme Court justices

When justices serve so long, the stakes of each appointment are too high. And when justices can time their retirements, the politicization of the court grows too acute.

By

Opinion

October 1, 2020 - 9:39 AM

People gather to mourn the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at the steps in front of the Supreme Court on Friday. Photo by (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/TNS)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg understood, more than anyone else, the enormous consequences of her death. “My most fervent wish,” she said, in a statement dictated to her granddaughter before she died, in her Washington, D.C., home, “is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

But barely hours after her death was announced, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said he would quickly move forward with a vote to fill Ginsburg’s seat with President’s Trump nominee, brazenly contradicting his own rule against installing Supreme Court justices in presidential election years.

It was unseemly, to say the least, that our collective mourning of Ginsburg’s extraordinary life and influential legacy was almost immediately eclipsed by the political implications of her death. But that’s what Supreme Court confirmations have become: another venue for the country’s poisonous partisanship.

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