House Democrats introduced new legislation this week to impose term limits on Supreme Court Justices. The bill would also require presidents to appoint a new justice during their first and third years in office, replacing the most senior justice at the time with the new appointee.
The “Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization Act of 2022,” or TERM Act, would limit Supreme Court justices’ terms to 18 years, and would also establish the “regular appointment of justices.”
“The President shall, during the first and third years after a year in which there is a Presidential election, nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint one justice of the Supreme Court,” the bill states.
Justices currently sitting on the Court would be forced to retire once a new justice is appointed, starting with the justice who has been on the court the longest.
Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduced the TERM Act with co-sponsors including Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), David Ciciline (D-RI), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Karen Bass (D-CA), and Ro Khanna (D-CA).
In a statement on the bill, Johnson asserted the U.S. Supreme Court is “facing a legitimacy crisis” due to the Court’s “out-of-touch” conservative majority.
“This Supreme Court is increasingly facing a legitimacy crisis,” Johnson said. “Five of the six conservative justices on the bench were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, and they are now racing to impose their out-of-touch agenda on the American people, who do not want it. Term limits are a necessary step toward restoring balance to this radical, unrestrained majority on the court.”
Rep. Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, echoed Johnson’s comments, arguing in a statement that fundamentally changing the Supreme Court is “essential.”
“With all the harmful and out-of-touch rulings from the Supreme Court this last year, legislation creating 18-year terms for justices is essential,” Nadler said. “Otherwise, we will be left with backwards-looking majority for a generation or more. Instead, under this bill, each President would be entitled to appoint two justices. We would begin to see a Court that better represents this nation and that better reflects the public whose rights it is responsible for protecting.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is also introducing a similar bill in the Senate.
Earlier this month, Democrats in Congress called for additional legislation that would expand the Supreme Court by four seats.
Last year, Democrats introduced The Judiciary Act of 2021 to increase the number of justices on the Court to 13. There is currently a 6-3 conservative majority on the Court.
Johnson, who is also a leader on the bill to expand the court, said the Supreme Court is “at crisis with itself and with our democracy,” according to The Hill.