Supreme Court Justice David Souter is retiring. Apparently, Washington life doesn’t suit Souter, and, frankly, that’s the best thing I’ve heard in his favor.
A lot of people now speculate on whom our president will nominate, and how it will impact our country’s future. What will Congress do with the candidate? Will the ugly maw of politics sully the whole process . . . again?
One insight to glean from the second-guessing, speculation, and rumination is how sad it is that so much power rests on one selection.
When our leaders select a Supreme Court justice, they are selecting someone for life, really. Very few justices do as Souter has done, retire early, before their grasp on law and philosophy and politics might have dimmed a bit.
And that means that the job — already strategically important — becomes the Pearl of Great Price around which a lot of ugly politics scrambles.
How much better it would be were the Constitution amended to set terms for the justices, and limits to those terms!
Why not set terms to something like, say, eight years, and limit them to two? Sixteen years is plenty enough time in this office, way too much in most others.
Such a limit would make the position a little less crucial, and the turnover in the Court more evenly rotating.
And, thus, the appointment process a little less hysterical and ugly.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.