Eric Holder Calls for Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices, Claims Life Terms Set by Constitution Can Be Changed by Statute

Former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder called this week for term limits for Supreme Court justices, claiming the change could be made by statute even though the Constitution sets life terms for justices and federal judges. Holder suggested 18 year terms for “unelected” justices. Justices are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, all of whom are elected. The life term for justices and judges is intended to shield the judiciary from political influence with elected officials held accountable for their selections for the bench.

Eric Holder, file screen image.

Holder first raised the proposal in remarks last Saturday at Pomona College in Claremont, California that were reported by The Student Life:

…Holder, who served as attorney general for the first six years of Barack Obama’s presidency, offered some of it Saturday at Pomona College’s Bridges Auditorium for the third annual John A. Payton PO ’73 Distinguished Lectureship, named for a pioneering civil rights lawyer.

Through stories and a healthy portion of jokes, Holder gave audience members insight into the operations of the Justice Department under Obama, the criticism that current Attorney General William Barr is facing and the threat of gerrymandering during the redistricting process in 2021.

He also offered, for what appears to be the first time, his endorsement of a proposal to term-limit Supreme Court justices. He also advocated for allowing each president to appoint two justices each per term.

“I don’t think someone should have that much power in an unelected position for that long,” he said. “I think that three senatorial terms, 18 years, would be enough for a justice.”

Holder has also previously supported expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court…

In a reply to the head of a progressive group seeking reform of the Supreme Court, Holder expounded on his proposal on Twitter and urged it to become an issue for presidential candidates, “18 years is enough for an unelected official – Supreme Court justice – wielding such power. Each president gets two picks which will decrease the political pressure in confirmation. Can be done by statute. Ask each candidate their position – including Trump. Reform is necessary”

Article III, Section I of the Constitution sets life terms for justices and judges, yet Holder claims their terms can be changed by statute.

Section 1 The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

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