WASHINGTON, DC – Today, government watchdog Accountable.US endorsed the Supreme Court Biennial Appointments and Term Limits Act of 2023, legislation to establish commonsense term limits for Supreme Court justices. The legislation was introduced today by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Alex Padilla (D-CA), along with co-sponsors Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Brian Schatz (D-HI). Accountable.US also supports the similar Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization (TERM) Act, H.R. 5566, sponsored by Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) and original co-sponsors Reps. Dan Goldman (NY-10) and Shri Thanedar (MI-13), along with five other co-sponsors.
The Supreme Court is facing a serious legitimacy crisis. Justices’ countless ethics violations — from undisclosed lavish gifts to influence-peddling in elite circles — have caused public trust in the Court to plummet to record lows. The Supreme Court Biennial Appointments and Term Limits Act and the TERM Act are important steps toward restoring integrity and credibility to our high court. Accountable.US is proud to support this critical legislation to ensure that our Supreme Court answers to everyday Americans, not billionaire buddies,” said Accountable.US president Caroline Ciccone.
An organized scheme by right-wing special interests to capture and control the Supreme Court, aided by gobs of billionaire dark money flowing through the confirmation process and judicial lobbying, has resulted in an unaccountable Court out of step with the American people. Term limits and biennial appointments would make the Court more representative of the public and lower the stakes of each justice’s appointment, while preserving constitutional protections for judicial independence. As Congress considers multiple options to restore the integrity of this scandal-plagued Court, our term limits bill should be front and center as a potential solution,” said Senator Whitehouse, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Courts Subcommittee.
The Supreme Court Biennial Appointments and Term Limits Act establishes commonsense term limits for Supreme Court justices while preserving constitutional protections for judicial independence. Under the Act, a new justice would take the bench every two years and spend 18 years participating in all cases, after which time they would assume a senior status on the court and only hear cases in certain instances.
The bill comes after months of ethics issues at the Supreme Court — resulting in a full-blown corruption crisis that continues to loom large over the Court’s new term. Recent polling shows that two-thirds of Americans support term limits for Supreme Court justices, which would make the high court more representative of and accountable to the American public.
Accountable.US also supports the Sen. Whitehouse and Rep. Johnson Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act (SCERT Act), S. 359 and H.R. 926, which would create a code of conduct and more transparency and accountability for conflicts of interest.
Ahead of the new term, Accountable.US led over 40 watchdog and accountability groups in sending a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts demanding he ensure conflicted justices recuse themselves from key cases. Accountable.US also launched a campaign highlighting the Court’s corruption crisis on the first day of its new term.