New poll indicates most Americans want to end lifetime appointments for Supreme Court justices

Supreme Court building
The US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, is seen at sunset.

With congressional Democrats and Republicans seemingly in a perpetual state of battles over the judiciary, a recent poll shows the American public in favor of curbing lifetime appointments for Supreme Court justices, while displaying less enthusiasm toward other judicial reforms.

A Reuters/Ipsos national opinion poll conducted in mid-April showed that 63% of respondents supported term limits for Supreme Court justices, while only 22% of respondents supported lifetime appointments.

Supreme Court justices currently have lifetime appointments.

The poll also showed that 38% of respondents supported an expansion of the court from nine to 13 members, while 42% opposed the idea.

The court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, currently has a 6-3 conservative majority.

The importance of Supreme Court appointments for any president cannot be overstated – it is a chance to make an ideological mark on the highest court in the country and decisions handed down from the court are consequential for virtually every American citizen and can reverberate for generations.

Read more: Imagine a 20-car motorcade taking you to dinner. That’s the White House bubble Joe Biden now finds himself living in.

Former President Donald Trump was able to install three conservative jurists – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett – over the course of his single term in office.

President Joe Biden has not yet been able to make an appointment to the high court, but this past week, Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York said that Stephen Beyer should retire from the court at the end of the current Supreme Court term.

Jones is wary of a liberal-leaning justice staying on the court and preventing a Democratic president from nominating a successor in the event of a death, a scenario that occurred last year when liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away during Trump’s tenure.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity for President Biden to appoint and for the Senate to confirm jurists on the Supreme Court who are not hostile to our democracy and will adjudicate cases that will protect and preserve voting rights and will respect the will of Congress, frankly,” he said.

Last week, he unveiled a bill with Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York and Hank Johnson of Georgia, along with Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, that would expand the court from nine members to 13 members.

However, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said last week that she wouldn’t bring the measure up for a floor vote, instead awaiting the findings of President Joe Biden’s bipartisan commission on court reform.

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Congressional Democrats plan to introduce bill that would add four more justices to the Supreme Court, per report

Supreme Court building Sept 2020
The US Supreme Court

Democrats are reportedly ready to try and add more justices to the US Supreme Court.

Four members of Congress are poised to introduce legislation Thursday that would expand the size of the Supreme Court, first reported by The Intercept and later confirmed by other outlets.

The bill is reportedly being led by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler of New York, Subcommittee Chair Hank Johnson of Georgia, and Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York in the House, while Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts is spearheading the bill in the Senate.

Three congressional sources familiar with the measure told The Intercept that the legislation would add four seats to the Supreme Court, which would bring the total number of justices to 13.

Congress has the power to set the number of judges on the high court, and the count previously fluctuated during the country’s pre-20th century history.

Former President Donald Trump was able to appoint three justices during his four-year tenure, cementing a 6-3 conservative-leaning Supreme Court after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020.

After the Senate rushed through Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation process just weeks before the 2020 election, some Democrats started advocating for “packing the courts,” or expanding the number of justices in order to take back some judicial control.

Now, Democrats hold, an albeit, narrow majority in both chambers, and even President Joe Biden, who had previously said he “wasn’t a fan” of court-packing, has signaled he may be open to the idea, creating a commission to study the possible reform and others earlier this month.

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