21 votes

What's your opinion on the concept of US Supreme Court packing and/or term limits?

For those not aware, packing the court in this context refers to expanding the size of the U.S. Supreme Court so that whoever's in power can nominate judges they prefer to the newly-created seats, thereby creating a favorable majority for them where there might not have been one previously. It was attempted once in 1937, but failed, and has not been attempted since.

As for term limits, Supreme Court justices have none; the position is for life. The reasoning for this is primarily so that they can't be influenced as easily for political gain, as they've already achieved the final step in their careers.

Personally, the concept of court-packing has worried me no matter who does it, because from what I can tell (though granted I've not researched this), the Supreme Court has thus far done a decent job of avoiding partisanship; I'm concerned packing the courts would damage this precedent. I do believe that term limits could work, though I suspect they'd require a clause prohibiting justices from holding any jobs after their term expires, lest they become politically influenced by down-the-line job offers.

That said, what's your take?

(By the way, CGP Grey has a great video on some parts of the Supreme Court if you're interested in learning more about it)

58 comments

  1. [3]
    Amarok
    Link
    I'd like 24 year term limits with no chance for re-election, and no opportunity to become a senator or representative afterwards - one term and done. I don't mind an expansion of the court,...

    I'd like 24 year term limits with no chance for re-election, and no opportunity to become a senator or representative afterwards - one term and done.

    I don't mind an expansion of the court, either. I'd go for three separate panels of nine justices (random lots for each case, no cliques), and task the ones on their last six years to replace the FISC. Call it a senior panel for serious business. When it's a big issue, we get all 27 of them in on the ruling. When it's a smaller issue, panel of nine is sufficient, possibly with an appeal to a different set of nine justices than heard the original. I feel like they could use the help with their case load.

    What I'd really like is a sense of regularity and process to the appointment of new justices. Appointing them only when another one drops dead of old age or heath issues is just plain nuts.

    18 votes
    1. [2]
      MimicSquid
      Link Parent
      I very much like this set of suggestions.

      I very much like this set of suggestions.

      2 votes
      1. Amarok
        Link Parent
        I could go as low as 18 years or as high as 30 years on the term limits, but I do get the impression that we're not making the most out of our third branch of government. They are the ones who...

        I could go as low as 18 years or as high as 30 years on the term limits, but I do get the impression that we're not making the most out of our third branch of government. They are the ones who must review and validate the constitutionality of all laws in this country, and asking nine people to do that job does seem a bit unrealistic.

        5 votes
  2. [5]
    nukeman
    (edited )
    Link
    I’m not a fan of court packing (too easy to escalate into a tit for tat), but I recognize the need to “restore balance/depoliticize the court” (a bit nebulous, since the judiciary will always have...

    I’m not a fan of court packing (too easy to escalate into a tit for tat), but I recognize the need to “restore balance/depoliticize the court” (a bit nebulous, since the judiciary will always have a political influence), especially since the GOP did their own version of court packing. It’s likely a moot point anyway, since Manchin and Biden are not particularly strong supporters of the concept (I believe Manchin opposes it).

    As far as term limits go, while requiring an amendment, this one would be nice. A single 18-year term gives the same stabilizing effect while preventing stagnation and helping discourage appointing younger justices. I think a bit more constitutional clarity on the court overall would be a nice thing.

    10 votes
    1. [4]
      Eabryt
      Link Parent
      Couldn't you argue that what the GOP did isn't a version, but the definition of court packing? They refused to seat judges nominated by the previous President and then rammed through as many as...

      especially since the GOP did their own version of court packing

      Couldn't you argue that what the GOP did isn't a version, but the definition of court packing? They refused to seat judges nominated by the previous President and then rammed through as many as they could in the past 4 years.

      21 votes
      1. [3]
        nukeman
        Link Parent
        It doesn’t meet the technical definition of adding more justices than are currently on the bench. The wiki page actually redirects to the proposed 1937 law, there isn’t an actual page specifically...

        It doesn’t meet the technical definition of adding more justices than are currently on the bench. The wiki page actually redirects to the proposed 1937 law, there isn’t an actual page specifically on court packing.

        8 votes
        1. [2]
          wycy
          Link Parent
          Republicans also love actual court packing when it comes to state courts

          Republicans also love actual court packing when it comes to state courts

          In the past decade alone, lawmakers in 11 states have introduced at least 20 bills to expand or contract the size of their supreme courts. The vast majority of these efforts were made by Republicans, often for apparent partisan advantage. That is, many of these lawmakers appear to have attempted to change the size of their highest state court to affect its ideological composition — and two of these attempts have succeeded.

          Early in 2016, a Republican lawmaker introduced House Bill 2537, which sought to expand the Arizona Supreme Court from five to seven justices. The Republican-controlled legislature approved the measure, with no support from Democrats.

          A Republican-sponsored bill that would have split the Florida Supreme Court into separate civil and criminal courts of last resort — and added three seats in the process — passed in the state House but failed in the Senate. In Montana, a Republican proposal to unpack the state Supreme Court by removing two seats (the governor was a Democrat at the time) received a hearing but died in committee. Democrats, too, have made a few attempts of late to pack and unpack courts, including in Alabama and Louisiana, though they have had no recent successes — perhaps in part because Republicans have controlled many more state legislatures in the past decade.

          14 votes
          1. nukeman
            Link Parent
            Yikes I hadn’t heard about that

            Yikes I hadn’t heard about that

            2 votes
  3. [30]
    Eabryt
    Link
    I think there needs to be rebalancing. In regards to term limits, you could argue that a lack of term limits is what gave us the Supreme Court "wins" around the election the last 2 months. Trump's...

    I think there needs to be rebalancing.

    In regards to term limits, you could argue that a lack of term limits is what gave us the Supreme Court "wins" around the election the last 2 months. Trump's 3 picks don't have to worry about retaliation and so they were able to rule what they actually strongly believed.

    I did see one theory that I believe said to raise the number of judges from 9 to 13 with Biden (at the time it was whoever won in 2020) picking 2, and then the next 2 presidents each picking one, which could help even things out a bit.

    Back to term limits I've seen an idea floated where it's 18 year Supreme Court term limit, however you're just rotated out to role on the Federal Bench, which I believe are also lifetime positions.

    I'm not really sure what the solution is, but I do think something needs to change.

    7 votes
    1. JXM
      Link Parent
      Yes, but if you had exceedingly long terms (say 15-20 years and they were not allowed to serve more than once), you could solve that problem.

      In regards to term limits, you could argue that a lack of term limits is what gave us the Supreme Court "wins" around the election the last 2 months. Trump's 3 picks don't have to worry about retaliation and so they were able to rule what they actually strongly believed.

      Yes, but if you had exceedingly long terms (say 15-20 years and they were not allowed to serve more than once), you could solve that problem.

      8 votes
    2. [28]
      vord
      Link Parent
      I've said it before, I'll say it again: Supreme Jury. 20+ randomly chosen people must reach concensus to make a ruling. If it's good enough to convict for crimes it's good enough to judge laws...

      I've said it before, I'll say it again:

      Supreme Jury. 20+ randomly chosen people must reach concensus to make a ruling. If it's good enough to convict for crimes it's good enough to judge laws themselves.

      Court duty should be a nuisance nobody wants to deal with if they can avoid it, not a honor and privilege.

      6 votes
      1. [25]
        tindall
        Link Parent
        I don't agree with this. Judges and juries are different, and serve different purposes; judges interpret the law, and juries interpret facts. Only one of those requires a significant time and...

        I don't agree with this. Judges and juries are different, and serve different purposes; judges interpret the law, and juries interpret facts. Only one of those requires a significant time and energy investment up front above and beyond normal schooling.

        I consider myself quite literate and decent at abstract thinking but I don't pretend to imagine that I could simply sit down in a Justice's chair and begin to interpret the law without serious consequences. Among other things, I have no experience with how precedents tend to play out, which is in some ways the whole point of the Supreme Court.

        22 votes
        1. [11]
          AugustusFerdinand
          Link Parent
          I agree. The supreme court is there to interpret the law and largely its constitutionality, the justices (with one very clear exception) have decades of experience interpreting law and entire...

          I agree. The supreme court is there to interpret the law and largely its constitutionality, the justices (with one very clear exception) have decades of experience interpreting law and entire teams of aides to help them research an otherwise insurmountable amount of information, past rulings, et al. I don't think it would be a stretch to place a significant bet that a massive majority of Americans haven't read past the first sentence of the Constitution. To place constitutionality decisions in the hands of these people would be catastrophic.

          I love law, in another life I'd be a judge right now (and am considering it still), I adore jury duty, I have gone to court to sit in the gallery and watch any and all proceedings from traffic tickets to divorce/custody battles all the way up to murder trials. It is utterly fascinating how the system works and trials are carried out. All that said and based on sitting with several juries, through numerous jury selections, trials of all kinds (and just overall observations): when it comes to law the general public, and in this case (no pun intended) jurors specifically, are idiots who even sitting through one jury selection process will make you question the whole jury system.

          3 votes
          1. [10]
            tindall
            Link Parent
            I don't think that's fair. The point of the jury system is to remove the class bias from the system, and while it fails to do that, it does at least help somewhat. Having less-educated people in...

            when it comes to law the general public, and in this case (no pun intended) jurors specifically, are idiots who even sitting through one jury selection process will make you question the whole jury system.

            I don't think that's fair. The point of the jury system is to remove the class bias from the system, and while it fails to do that, it does at least help somewhat. Having less-educated people in the jury is the point, at least until we as a society manage to get our heads out of our asses and decouple education from class. It is the job of the judge to explain the law to the jury; if that doesn't happen, that's on the judge.

            5 votes
            1. [9]
              NoblePath
              Link Parent
              I don't agree with this statement. Maybe, perhaps, the point is to remove individual bias. People don't often think too deeply about the "of their peers" part of the jury requirement. But who is...

              The point of the jury system is to remove the class bias from the system

              I don't agree with this statement. Maybe, perhaps, the point is to remove individual bias. People don't often think too deeply about the "of their peers" part of the jury requirement. But who is your peer? Most people just assume it means "citizen in rough geographic area same as the defendant" but that's not necessarily so.

              Also important, juries have nothing to do with law, they are there only to decide facts. Applying the law is entirely within the domain of the judge.

              1 vote
              1. [8]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                That’s the theory, but in practice, juries decide verdicts, and what role the law or facts may play in that decision is up to them, no matter what the judge tells them. Probably the biggest...

                That’s the theory, but in practice, juries decide verdicts, and what role the law or facts may play in that decision is up to them, no matter what the judge tells them.

                Probably the biggest constraint is that they only know what they’re told or can remember. Though, It seems like it would be hard to stop Internet research?

                3 votes
                1. [7]
                  NoblePath
                  Link Parent
                  It's important to understand what a verdict is here. A verdict is a yes/no answer to a question that is devised by the judge (and the rest of the judicial system, including the lawyers), questions...

                  It's important to understand what a verdict is here. A verdict is a yes/no answer to a question that is devised by the judge (and the rest of the judicial system, including the lawyers), questions which are devised ideally to only establish whether a fact (or set of facts) is true. The "guilty" language is added in criminal jury instructions to add gravity to the decision and remind jurors to take their job seriously because it has serious consequences for the defendant.

                  Of course, in reality, juries are susceptible to all kinds of biases and cognitive limitations and wreak injustice all the time. But, justice is hard on a good day, and juries are the best fact-finding mechanism we have devised so far. There's a couple of great Star Trek TNG episodes on these issues.

                  This, incidentally, is why I bring up the "of their peers" point elsewhere. Like in 12 angry men, is an all white jury truly a jury of peers for an inner-city black person? Should jury selection account for these sorts of things? Would you want folks who stormed the capitol yesterday on your jury? Are they your peers? In a civil litigation matter involving a FOSS license, is an 85 year old retired sailor from maine an appropriate peer of Linus Torvalds? I could go all day on this.

                  3 votes
                  1. [4]
                    tindall
                    Link Parent
                    Yes. Since the Magna Carta, "peer" has meant "someone of your same legal standing in society" - that is, noblemen tried by noblemen, commoners tried by commoners. We don't have nobility in this...

                    In a civil litigation matter involving a FOSS license, is an 85 year old retired sailor from maine an appropriate peer of Linus Torvalds?

                    Yes. Since the Magna Carta, "peer" has meant "someone of your same legal standing in society" - that is, noblemen tried by noblemen, commoners tried by commoners. We don't have nobility in this country, so it basically just means "other Americans".

                    3 votes
                    1. [2]
                      NoblePath
                      Link Parent
                      I obviously cannot in good faith disput that that is how the meaning is generally practiced. I merely call into question whether it must be practiced that way, or whether that practice is just.

                      I obviously cannot in good faith disput that that is how the meaning is generally practiced. I merely call into question whether it must be practiced that way, or whether that practice is just.

                      2 votes
                      1. tindall
                        Link Parent
                        Yeah, and that's totally legit. I think it's worth considering whether some cases should be prevented from going to jury trial, and instead be given to a panel of experts; but then you have the...

                        Yeah, and that's totally legit. I think it's worth considering whether some cases should be prevented from going to jury trial, and instead be given to a panel of experts; but then you have the problem that a lot of those experts will likely be affiliated with one side or other, as in the Google v Oracle case.

                        2 votes
                    2. wervenyt
                      Link Parent
                      That's why the question is about the peer being appropriate. Just because, legally, they are 'peers', should they be considered as such in the context of adjudication?

                      That's why the question is about the peer being appropriate. Just because, legally, they are 'peers', should they be considered as such in the context of adjudication?

                  2. [2]
                    skybrian
                    Link Parent
                    Well, for example, a jury might decide between first, second, third degree murder, or manslaughter. Are these facts? They seem to have more to do with legal consequences for the defendants than...

                    Well, for example, a jury might decide between first, second, third degree murder, or manslaughter. Are these facts? They seem to have more to do with legal consequences for the defendants than with establishing an account of what happened.

                    1 vote
                    1. NoblePath
                      Link Parent
                      Yes, but they are not being asked to apply a legal standard there, rather a factual one. So the yes/no question is about whether certain specific facts (named in the instruction, e.g. if you...

                      Yes, but they are not being asked to apply a legal standard there, rather a factual one. So the yes/no question is about whether certain specific facts (named in the instruction, e.g. if you believe the defendant intended to point the gun at the victim and squeeze the trigger so as to kill him) are true, you should answer yes. They are not asked to understand the legal meaning of the facts, but simply whether the particular facts are true. The judge decides which facts have to be decided true to produce the legal result.

                      2 votes
            2. Removed by admin: 7 comments by 2 users
              Link Parent
        2. [11]
          vord
          Link Parent
          And that's a problem with the legal system. If someone with a GED can't understand the law, the law is too complex.

          at I could simply sit down in a Justice's chair and begin to interpret the law without serious consequences.

          And that's a problem with the legal system. If someone with a GED can't understand the law, the law is too complex.

          3 votes
          1. tindall
            Link Parent
            Definitely. That's why I'm an anarchist :) But the system we have is the system we have, and I prefer it to whatever we're currently descending into; I think, from that perspective, it's worth...

            Definitely. That's why I'm an anarchist :) But the system we have is the system we have, and I prefer it to whatever we're currently descending into; I think, from that perspective, it's worth defending.

            5 votes
          2. [9]
            NoblePath
            Link Parent
            I call baloney on this and I bet I can aptly demonstrate it right here and now. It does not make one person better than another, but those whose highest possible (based solely on innate...

            I call baloney on this and I bet I can aptly demonstrate it right here and now. It does not make one person better than another, but those whose highest possible (based solely on innate intellectual ability, not social causes such as economic disadvantage)(argument about whether one can distinguish between innate and environmental aside) academic achievement cannot sufficiently evaluate disparate variables to resolve fine justice paradoxes in a rational manner.

            Allow me to demonstrate. What is your favorite misapplication of justice?

            2 votes
            1. [8]
              vord
              Link Parent
              When police are not tried as murderers for killing people. Criminalization of homelessness. Take your pick.

              When police are not tried as murderers for killing people.

              Criminalization of homelessness.

              Take your pick.

              1 vote
              1. [7]
                NoblePath
                Link Parent
                Well, those are awfully broad, so we’ll need to find out what you mean exactly. I assume it is not your opinion that all use of lethal force by the police is murder. So maybe you explain which...

                Well, those are awfully broad, so we’ll need to find out what you mean exactly. I assume it is not your opinion that all use of lethal force by the police is murder. So maybe you explain which circumstances you mean, and also what you mean by ‘murder’.

                I’m not aware of a jurisdiction where it is illegal to be homeless. I do understand, however, that certain laws tend to impact homeless folks disproportionately. While the way we treat homeless people is, i agree wholeheartedly, unjust, this has little to do with criminal law except maybe for the drugs. This is a political and social problem about our failure to provide adequate respurces for the sick and infirm among us. But if you want to get more specific about the criminal justice system and the homeless we can explore it.

                Please hear, my argument here is that it is right that the administrators of justice should not be just amybody capable of a ged. My point is that they need to be trained, smart, and dedicated, and the higher up the system, the more trained and smart they need to be. Remaining grounded and connected to the general population are also important, and i. That way the elite tier of the justice world is probably failing, but that’s a seperate conversation.

                1. [6]
                  tindall
                  Link Parent
                  Then, frankly, your view of the law is hopelessly naïve. There are many good writings on the topic; these few serve as a good introduction....

                  I’m not aware of a jurisdiction where it is illegal to be homeless. ... While the way we treat homeless people is, i agree wholeheartedly, unjust, this has little to do with criminal law

                  Then, frankly, your view of the law is hopelessly naïve.

                  There are many good writings on the topic; these few serve as a good introduction.

                  https://theappeal.org/the-criminalization-of-homelessness-an-explainer-aa074d25688d/

                  https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/09/homelessness-criminalization-capital-wage-labor-exploitation-welfare-laws

                  https://nlchp.org/criminalization/

                  1. [5]
                    NoblePath
                    Link Parent
                    Here is the text of the Honolulu ordinance referenced in one of your cites. Leaving aside that nowhere does the ordinance make it illegal not to have some kind of permanent residence, is there...

                    Here is the text of the Honolulu ordinance referenced in one of your cites.

                    Leaving aside that nowhere does the ordinance make it illegal not to have some kind of permanent residence, is there anything in this text that makes the ordinance illegal?

                    Edit: related, but slightly different question, would you agree that people who signed this bill have the authority to enact and enforce this ordinance?

                    1. [4]
                      tindall
                      Link Parent
                      Yeah, you're right. It's not technically illegal to be homeless, but it's illegal or just impossible to do most things while homeless. You can't sleep, because you have to sleep on public property...

                      Yeah, you're right. It's not technically illegal to be homeless, but it's illegal or just impossible to do most things while homeless. You can't sleep, because you have to sleep on public property (which is usually illegal) or someone else's private property, which is trespassing unless they let you do so. You can't open a bank account at most banks, or get a driver's license in many states, or register a phone number unless you use prepaid cards (which are ridiculously overpriced).

                      related, but slightly different question, would you agree that people who signed this bill have the authority to enact and enforce this ordinance?

                      Legally, probably. Morally, I'm an anarchist, so no.

                      1 vote
                      1. [3]
                        NoblePath
                        Link Parent
                        Please keep in mind, you and I have no disagreement that we as a society are completely failing to adequately provide for vast swaths of our population, including the homeless. I need no...

                        Please keep in mind, you and I have no disagreement that we as a society are completely failing to adequately provide for vast swaths of our population, including the homeless. I need no convincing that this law creates unjust outcomes. What I am trying to demonstrate is that a fair administration of justice requires professionals.

                        What do you mean by "morally"?

                        1. [2]
                          tindall
                          Link Parent
                          These laws, like most laws in our current society, are built on the concept of conglomerate private property, which is evil.

                          What do you mean by "morally"?

                          These laws, like most laws in our current society, are built on the concept of conglomerate private property, which is evil.

                          1. NoblePath
                            Link Parent
                            I wasn't asking why you meant this particular law was immoral (but we'll get to that), but rather, how do you define "moral"?

                            I wasn't asking why you meant this particular law was immoral (but we'll get to that), but rather, how do you define "moral"?

        3. [2]
          Gaywallet
          Link Parent
          What are your thoughts on alternative systems like professional jurors - so that people are both educated and understand law to some extent before serving? What about expanding the supreme court...

          What are your thoughts on alternative systems like professional jurors - so that people are both educated and understand law to some extent before serving? What about expanding the supreme court so it functionally is the same size as a standard Jury, but comprised of experts?

          1 vote
          1. tindall
            Link Parent
            My gut feeling is that having "expert jurors" defeats the purpose of having a jury, but I'd need to look into it more.

            My gut feeling is that having "expert jurors" defeats the purpose of having a jury, but I'd need to look into it more.

            3 votes
      2. Amarok
        Link Parent
        My issue with this is that this job requires a level of legal expertise that no layman could ever hope to have. These justices must be intimately aware of both foreign and domestic history and...

        My issue with this is that this job requires a level of legal expertise that no layman could ever hope to have. These justices must be intimately aware of both foreign and domestic history and legal precedent, and have experience as a judge before taking one of these seats.

        I wouldn't mind working juries or expert panels into the process on principle but I've no idea how to do that because I don't work in the legal profession. I'm also not sure that those groups would add all that much to the process - they may just be unnecessary complications.

        4 votes
      3. NoblePath
        Link Parent
        This strikes me as a very unworkable idea. For one reason, juries are there to decide facts, not law, but cases at the level of appeal are all about the law, facts are deemed to be as the trial...

        This strikes me as a very unworkable idea.

        For one reason, juries are there to decide facts, not law, but cases at the level of appeal are all about the law, facts are deemed to be as the trial court decided them (often through a jury), and the only issue regarding facts is whether they were admissible.

        For another, law is excruciatingly intricate for a reason: the principles of justice are subtle and numerous. And see my other post if you would like to engage in a demonstration.

        1 vote
  4. [5]
    Gaywallet
    Link
    I find it weird that so many people are suggesting such long term limits - judges in other courts are often there for a much shorter period of time and much earlier in their lifetime. What is...

    I find it weird that so many people are suggesting such long term limits - judges in other courts are often there for a much shorter period of time and much earlier in their lifetime. What is everyone's thought on much shorter term limits such as 8-10 years or eliminating the ability for someone to serve for multiple terms so there is no incentive to try and get elected (whatever that process may be) again?

    Also what about more radical ideas, such as having quorums of sitting federal judges being asked to interpret law? A council of federal judges, elected by sitting federal judges, which get to spend their time functionally acting as the supreme court?

    The supreme court has been on a downward slide actively repealing hard earned protections, laws, and progress that was established decades ago. Is this not concerning to others?

    7 votes
    1. [4]
      AugustusFerdinand
      Link Parent
      I think it's based around people believing they serve for much longer than they do. The average (and median) length of tenure as a Supreme Court Justice is about 16 years.

      I find it weird that so many people are suggesting such long term limits - judges in other courts are often there for a much shorter period of time and much earlier in their lifetime. What is everyone's thought on much shorter term limits such as 8-10 years[...]

      I think it's based around people believing they serve for much longer than they do. The average (and median) length of tenure as a Supreme Court Justice is about 16 years.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        LukeZaz
        Link Parent
        Can't speak for others, but this was definitely news to me, so you're probably right. If I'd have guessed, I'd have thought the median would've been around 20-22 years.

        Can't speak for others, but this was definitely news to me, so you're probably right. If I'd have guessed, I'd have thought the median would've been around 20-22 years.

        2 votes
        1. stu2b50
          Link Parent
          To be fair, I think it is worth thinking about as politics gets more polarized. Much of that average tenure involved the "Good Ol' Days" when the senate ran with a lot of implicit de facto...

          To be fair, I think it is worth thinking about as politics gets more polarized. Much of that average tenure involved the "Good Ol' Days" when the senate ran with a lot of implicit de facto procedures, including that if the Judge is sufficiently qualified and not terribly partisan to either side, you'd let them through. McConnell's senate has shattered that, of course, and with lifetime judicial nominations, the natural extension of pushing the rules to the limit is that if you have a simple majority in the senate + presidency, then forget qualifications - get someone as YOUNG and as PARTISAN as possible, because they're in there for life.

          3 votes
      2. jackson
        Link Parent
        Another interesting thing that could happen with instituting a term limit is allowing younger people to serve on the court. No one would dare nominate someone young to the court as it stands...

        Another interesting thing that could happen with instituting a term limit is allowing younger people to serve on the court. No one would dare nominate someone young to the court as it stands because they'd be allowed to serve for essentially as long as they want. By adding any kind of term limit, you no longer need "proximity to death" as a factor to consider.

        1 vote
  5. knocklessmonster
    Link
    Our definitions about what is "right" are purely arbitrary. I would be at odds with a conservative person as to what the "right" vote for said court would be, and would have a somewhat different...

    Our definitions about what is "right" are purely arbitrary. I would be at odds with a conservative person as to what the "right" vote for said court would be, and would have a somewhat different definition of neutral politics from the court. There's a bit of a sticky issue with political neutrality where we're generally more willing to accept somewhat more agreeable politics as more neutral, when really they're less offensive to our personal sensibilities.

    While I will be building a strawman, it's not with the intent to knock it down easily, but to illustrate a point.

    If we extend this to court packing in our current context: It's 6:3 conservative:liberal. A conservative is more comfortable with this because it's a normalization of their politics. I'm uncomfortable with this because it's an attempt at normalizing politics I disagree with. However, if I add two or four people to balance it, while still respecting the need for an odd number to avoid stalemates, the conservative may feel I've packed it more in my favor, and seek to balance it by adding two or four of their own people. Now, it's balanced against me! I have to fix it, so I add two more. It's a slippery slope, and the first punch thrown is basically the one that's at fault.

    You could say "this has happened in many states and they haven't burned down!" and you'd be right, but I don't think re-packing a court to change its political balance is the way to go on this, as it turns yet another branch of government into a place for political shenaniganery.

    Somebody here posed an idea that you could have a revolving court. Every two years the most senior member is ejected, and a new junior is brought in, so you've got a court that moves with the country. It turns the court into a rolling system that moves in lock-step with the country, instead of constantly staying ideologically 40 years behind it.

    7 votes
  6. [5]
    Flashynuff
    Link
    I support it - if it's done to advance good things. I think the Supreme Court is an undemocratic body as it exists now and that blind adherence to norms allows horrible people to game the system...

    I support it - if it's done to advance good things. I think the Supreme Court is an undemocratic body as it exists now and that blind adherence to norms allows horrible people to game the system in horrible ways.

    4 votes
    1. [4]
      LukeZaz
      Link Parent
      That's the issue I worry about though. IMO, packing the court is, in and of itself, a way to game the system. It's a way for an administration who doesn't like the current makeup of the SCOTUS to...

      [...] if it's done to advance good things.

      That's the issue I worry about though. IMO, packing the court is, in and of itself, a way to game the system. It's a way for an administration who doesn't like the current makeup of the SCOTUS to change it to suit their needs.

      Yes, we should consider changes that make sense if the norms don't hold up, but I'm not convinced court packing is a good idea just yet. That said, it was mentioned elsewhere in the thread that increasing the court size might be good, and that the political nature of doing so could be averted by having the judges appointed in batches over several presidential / congressional terms; this would be a change I'd be fine with.

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        Flashynuff
        Link Parent
        Well, yes. The current makeup of the SCOTUS is horrible, largely because Republicans have relentlessly gamed the system. An administration that actually aims to do good things (of which there are...

        IMO, packing the court is, in and of itself, a way to game the system. It's a way for an administration who doesn't like the current makeup of the SCOTUS to change it to suit their needs.

        Well, yes. The current makeup of the SCOTUS is horrible, largely because Republicans have relentlessly gamed the system. An administration that actually aims to do good things (of which there are many extremely necessary things that need to be done) should not shy away from gaming the system back. Ideally they would dismantle the system as well so it cannot be gamed again.

        I don't think spreading the expansion across multiple admins would work unless the admins shared the same goals. Otherwise, you'll just end up in the same situation where whoever blocks the other's appointments more wins.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          LukeZaz
          Link Parent
          I feel like you've got to reform the system before you can fix the pieces. Disease before symptoms and all. It's not easy to do since the status quo is fond of itself, but I still think it's...

          I feel like you've got to reform the system before you can fix the pieces. Disease before symptoms and all. It's not easy to do since the status quo is fond of itself, but I still think it's important. "Gaming the system back" IMO sounds like a great way to escalate things without necessarily solving them, and that feels dangerous.

          As for over-time appointments, that's less so to solve court-packing and moreso a good-faith gesture for when your goal isn't "improve court balance," but just "increase the size of the court." Just up and doing that smells of court-packing and politicization, but spreading it out might help ease those worries. I'm not convinced that we really need to increase the size of the court just for the sake of it, but I'm open to considering it if an argument is made in favor.

          2 votes
          1. Flashynuff
            Link Parent
            For this metaphor, what's the disease and what's the symptom? Simple reform and good faith gestures usually don't work when your opposition is operating in bad faith and has no interest in...

            For this metaphor, what's the disease and what's the symptom?

            Simple reform and good faith gestures usually don't work when your opposition is operating in bad faith and has no interest in respecting your reforms. The goal is not to improve court balance or increase the size of the court for its own sake, it is to make the court more sympathetic to progressive politics.

            2 votes
  7. [3]
    Parliament
    Link
    I think it is necessary to right wrongs, same with removing the filibuster. The Republicans through McConnell stole a SCOTUS pick from Obama, then an actual villain president got to nominate three...

    I think it is necessary to right wrongs, same with removing the filibuster. The Republicans through McConnell stole a SCOTUS pick from Obama, then an actual villain president got to nominate three in four years. It's damn near impossible to impeach those justices, so their power must be diluted. The Republicans essentially started packing the court already by giving the finger to precedent and norms - will we respond or just let them keep pushing the limits until the end of time?

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      LukeZaz
      Link Parent
      The thing I worry about is if doing this will make the Supreme Court start to look like just another part of party politics. As it stands, I've got faith that the SCOTUS does at least an alright...

      The thing I worry about is if doing this will make the Supreme Court start to look like just another part of party politics. As it stands, I've got faith that the SCOTUS does at least an alright job making decisions based on reason and beliefs as opposed to party affiliation, and I worry that involving it in politics more via shenanigans like court-packing would damage that.

      Turnabout may be fair play, but it tends to encourage escalation.

      1 vote
      1. MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        But it already is exactly that: just another part of party politics. Even if the judges maintain something resembling independence while they're on the bench, they are the people they are, and...

        But it already is exactly that: just another part of party politics. Even if the judges maintain something resembling independence while they're on the bench, they are the people they are, and they were selected by one party or another to advance its goals, even if they don't necessarily rule in lockstep.

        3 votes
  8. skybrian
    Link
    It seems ghoulish and arbitrary for Supreme Court justices to serve until they die. This makes the timing of when new justices are appointed depend too much on their health. It would be fair and...

    It seems ghoulish and arbitrary for Supreme Court justices to serve until they die. This makes the timing of when new justices are appointed depend too much on their health. It would be fair and result in less controversy if each president had the right to appoint two justices per term, regardless of whether anyone resigns or dies. This should probably happen early in the term, perhaps in the first and second year.

    It would make sense if there were a rule that if appointing a new justice results in more than nine justices, the one with the most seniority has to resign. Apparently that would require a constitutional amendment, though. Perhaps it could be done by tradition?

    I don’t think the court is so unbalanced that it’s an emergency. There seems to be respect for precedence, and some justices are conservative but they were never Trumpists.

    4 votes
  9. [2]
    NoblePath
    Link
    My understanding was that fdr didn’t fail to pack the court, rather he leveraged the threat into some key retirements from the position.

    My understanding was that fdr didn’t fail to pack the court, rather he leveraged the threat into some key retirements from the position.

    2 votes
    1. Amarok
      Link Parent
      Usually the threat of appointing new justices is enough to mess with the seated justices. Andrew Jackson also bullied them around in this manner.

      Usually the threat of appointing new justices is enough to mess with the seated justices. Andrew Jackson also bullied them around in this manner.

      1 vote
  10. [3]
    Kuromantis
    Link
    Similarly to @Gaywallet's question, what's everyone's thoughts with establishing some sort of health requirement to stay in the court and if it is not met they have to leave within a certain...

    Similarly to @Gaywallet's question, what's everyone's thoughts with establishing some sort of health requirement to stay in the court and if it is not met they have to leave within a certain timeframe? Like if, for example, diabetic or asthmatic people can't serve on the court or if someone say, breaks a bone or, to stop beating around the bush, gets cancer, they need to leave the court in, for example, 6 years regardless if what they have is treatable?

    2 votes
    1. spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      I think it'd be impossible to define / consistently enforce a rule like that, in practical terms. Lifetime tenure is written in to the constitution, so changing that would require a constitutional...

      I think it'd be impossible to define / consistently enforce a rule like that, in practical terms.

      Lifetime tenure is written in to the constitution, so changing that would require a constitutional amendment which is basically a nonstarter (it requires three-quarters of state legislatures to approve it, giving the Republican party basically complete veto power).

      Even the proposals for things like 18 year term limits have to work around this by saying that after your term is up you're still on the court, but in a non-voting "senior justice" role (this already exists for lower courts, but not the Supreme Court) that's sort of analogous to "emeritus professor" roles many universities have.

      4 votes
    2. nukeman
      Link Parent
      Too difficult to define, especially with regards to mental health. A 15-25 year single term for justices is easier to put into law, and more practical.

      Too difficult to define, especially with regards to mental health. A 15-25 year single term for justices is easier to put into law, and more practical.

      1 vote