Supreme Court Justice Forced Into Retirement?

AgnosticPreachersKid, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Legislation to enact term limits on Supreme Court Justices proposed by Democrats earlier this week would force Justice Clarence Thomas into semi-retirement.

The Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization Act proposed by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA.), chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, would enable the President to nominate a Supreme Court Justice in the first year and third year after the Presidential elections.

The bill would limit active service on the bench to 18 years, at which point a Justice will assume senior status, a term used to describe a federal judge in semi-retirement.
The bill also prescribes that Justices enter senior status according to their term served. Those first in would be first out.

This law would mean Thomas would be moved to senior status first.

As a senior, Justices would still have an office in the High Court and would receive duties and pay. Furthermore, should the number of active judges on the bench fall below 9, the last Justice to assume senior status would take up the role of ninth associate Judge.

Releasing a statement alongside his proposed bill, Johnson said the legislation was needed as the Supreme Court is “increasingly facing a legitimacy crisis.”

Johnson also inferred that the legitimacy crisis could be caused because “Five of the six conservative justices on the bench were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote.”

Johnson continued his rebuke of the Justices, saying, “and they are now racing to impose their out-of-touch agenda on the American people, who do not want it.”

Only Thomas doesn’t fall into this group of Justices as he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991.