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Junior Butt Warmer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A Homework assignment I'm dealing with and hoping to get Thoughts & Ideas on wording. Anyone interested in joining in?

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Background:

Article III Section 1 of the US Constitution establishes lifetime tenure as a Federal Judge contingent on Good Behavior.

I believe it was Jefferson who stated that the lifetime tenure of the Judiciary was the single biggest mistake they made during the drafting of the Constitution.

The President has already been limited in term through the Amendment Process.

Many people have been long discussing limiting the terms of Congress Members.

Why not consider limiting tenure for the Judiciary as well?

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Assignment:

Write a Constitutional Amendment providing term limits for the Judiciary. SCOTUS may or may not remain lifetime. Inferior Courts at appellate level should have longer terms than other Inferior Courts.

The wording must include Transition Provisions.

Use as many sections and paragraphs as it takes to produce wording effective to the task and able to withstand the Ratification Process.
 

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Lawyer and Gun Activist
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28,617 Posts
I appreciate the freedom an un-elected judge has to uphold individual rights against the shifting values and morals of popular culture.

Lifetime appointments are supposed to slow the change in the law that naturally occurs through the evolution of morals.

Both the direct election of judges and term limits make judges more closely follow the will of the people at any given moment rather than the legacy of the body of law that they have inherited.
It's closer to a pure democracy.

And in some ways, democracy is mob rule.
 

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American
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3,289 Posts
While I am not a fan of the most recent high-profile actions of activist judges I believe that the better remedy for them is impeachment. Unfortunately with spineless congresscritter such will never happen. Without some form of insulation the actions of the judiciary become more subject to the whims of our elected officials.
 

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Member Georgia Carry
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11,937 Posts
The benefit of a fractured government is that it makes it harder for them to mess with our liberty. The downside, is that once our liberty is messed with, a fractured government makes it more difficult to get our liberty restored.

So term limits can be good to get rid of the bad apples, but term limits can also get rid of the good ones, too. It's a double-edged sword.
 

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Like a Boss
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3,034 Posts
I appreciate the freedom an un-elected judge has to uphold individual rights against the shifting values and morals of popular culture.

Lifetime appointments are supposed to slow the change in the law that naturally occurs through the evolution of morals.

Both the direct election of judges and term limits make judges more closely follow the will of the people at any given moment rather than the legacy of the body of law that they have inherited.
It's closer to a pure democracy.

And in some ways, democracy is mob rule.
Elections and term limits aren't the only alternative to lifetime appointments. You could simply make the appointments for a fixed term, like 20 years or so, and prohibit reappointment to the same level (in other words, a district court judge could be appointed to a circuit court or SCOTUS during or after his 20 year term, but could never receive a second appointment to a district court). That would prevent the courts from getting ossified and give an automatic out to a judge who's been around too long, without subjecting judges to political pressure.

I'm not saying I advocate this option. I'm just pointing out it exists.
 

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NRA Instructor
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3,391 Posts
Instead of term limits more impeachments for not basing decisions in law or in the wording of the Constitution. Making up law and rewriting the Constitution to fit the political agenda of the party appointing them should be just cause for removal.
 

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Perhaps require the nomination process to stretch across branches (more than it does now) and across terms. Something like Congress nominates 15 candidates for a judgeship, then the President picks 1, then sends them to Congress after the next election. I'm tempted to say each party gets a certain number of nominees, but I'm not sure I want political parties, particularly not the two-party system we have now, enshrined in the Constitution anywhere.
 

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Lifetime judicial tenure is contingent upon "good behavior." What defines "good behavior"? Maybe it's better stated as what's not "good behavior." Is it judicial activism? Is it clear disregard for constitutional principles? Is it subversion of the legislative and executive branches clearly defined responsibilities?
 

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Junior Butt Warmer
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wegahe said:
Instead of term limits more impeachments for not basing decisions in law or in the wording of the Constitution. Making up law and rewriting the Constitution to fit the political agenda of the party appointing them should be just cause for removal.
I agree with your thoughts in principle, but who makes such a determination?

Ummm, judges... right? Interpretation is a Judicial Function, is it not?
 

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Junior Butt Warmer
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46,427 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
moe mensale said:
Lifetime judicial tenure is contingent upon "good behavior." What defines "good behavior"? Maybe it's better stated as what's not "good behavior." Is it judicial activism? Is it clear disregard for constitutional principles? Is it subversion of the legislative and executive branches clearly defined responsibilities?
I would say all of those thing and more, much more.
 

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Junior Butt Warmer
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46,427 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The current scheme has resulted in an "untouchable oligarchy". The Homework Assignment is an attempt to address the Root Problem.

The best parts of our American System use a more indirect approach. Simple, arbitrary limits on tenure are a direct solution with a wide array of Indirect Effects.

It's those Indirect Effects which will produce the best results, and the wording needs to reflect it.
 

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Junior Butt Warmer
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Perhaps District Judges limited to a single 15 Year Term with THAT being a prerequisite for appointment to Appellate?

Perhaps Re-Confirmation required every 5 years by the sitting President, or perhaps during every other Presidential Term?

Perhaps "At Will" upon Presidential Review, with Review required at least once every 10 years but not more often than 2 years?
 
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