Would SCOTUS Term Limits Yield Better Judges?

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Should Supreme Court justices have term limits--if only to take age out of the equation when searching for new justices? Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus mulls this over and thinks the answer might be "yes." In her take on this familiar question, she retreads the usual ground: "As a general matter, lifetime tenure for judges is not only a good idea, it's essential to an independent judiciary." Yet the sight of pundits discussing Obama's "need to select a justice young enough that he or she will be able to serve for decades" has pushed Marcus to moments of doubt: "well-qualified candidates are disadvantaged at the height of their careers," she reasons.

Then there are the other arguments. Marcus writes that having the court go a full eleven years without turnover, as it did leading up to Rehnquist's departure in 2005, could be "unhealthy." Meanwhile, "no other major country gives life tenure to its equivalent of Supreme Court justices. Neither do any of the 50 states." To top it off, making this change may not be as difficult as it seems. Last year, "an ideologically diverse group of law professors" came up with a way of instituting term limits that might not require a constitutional amendment.

So are term limits worth it, if they would allow presidents to pick better justices by making age less of a consideration?

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