Alexander Hamilton characterized the courts as the “least dangerous branch” of government, having neither the power of the sword or purse. Yet ever since the Supreme Court took for itself the power of judicial review, the Court has periodically come under intense criticism for certain rulings. Federal judges are appointed for life, and can only be removed through impeachment in the House of Representatives and conviction in the Senate. Only a handful of federal judges have ever been impeached, and no justice of the Supreme Court has ever been impeached. For this week’s assignment, respond to the following questions in essay format. The essay must be written in APA format and be between 400 to 600 words, and contain at least two references
1. Discuss the possible pros and cons of a reform that subjects Supreme Court justices, and all federal judges, to retention elections after a certain term expires after their initial appointment. Voters nationwide could review a justice’s record and decide whether or not to retain her or him for another term. What might be some positive effects of such a reform?
2. What might be some negative consequences? In weighing the potential pros and cons, consider the experiences of retention elections for judges in states that have them.
3. Does the experience in California, as profiled in this unit’s video segment, support or undermine the case for retention elections at the national level?
Another reform to consider is judicial term limits. Rather than appointing federal and Supreme Court justices for life, under term limits, judges would be appointed for a fixed term, say, six, 10, or 12 years, and then would be ineligible for another term.
4. What might be the pros and cons of such a change? In considering the possible merits of this reform, keep in mind the original intentions of the Constitution’s framers that the judiciary be insulated from electoral politics. Also, consider whether judges are insulated under the current system where judicial appointments have become another partisan conflict between Republicans and Democrats.