The U.S. Supreme Court Has Done Great Damage. It’s Time For Term Limits…

By Brennan Center

Photos: Wikimedia Commons\YouTube Screenshots

The Supreme Court is helping former President Trump avoid accountability for his alleged crimes on January 6 — even as news broke that Justice Samuel Alito allowed a “Stop the Steal” symbol to fly at his home in 2021 and a different insurrectionist flag to fly at his vacation home last summer. Alito’s failure to apologize or recuse from cases about efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, along with the Court’s delay tactics in deciding deciding whether Trump is immune from prosecution, highlight the dire need for reform. Starting with term limits for the justices.

Voters have a right to know if they are being asked to elect someone guilty of the most serious crimes that a president could commit against democracy itself. And when matters of the presidency have come before the Court in the past, it has been swift to respond. In United States v. Nixon in 1974, the Court took just two weeks to rule that the president had to turn over his Oval Office tapes. In 2000, Bush v. Gore took only three days to resolve. But the Court has already spent a month deliberating on Trump’s immunity case, with no end in sight.

The Court’s recent behavior is yet another example of how far out of step it is from the public and its sworn duty to be impartial. Term limits will bring much-needed accountability.

A majority of Americans understand and agree that a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court confers far too much public power on a single individual. An 18-year term limit is one of the few solutions with bipartisan support.

The Court’s refusal to swiftly respond to a simple question — whether a former president is immune from prosecution for his alleged crimes — is just the latest example of its power gone astray. The historical record is clear: the framers didn’t want another king. As James Iredell, one of the Court’s earliest justices, explained, “if [the president] commits any crime, he is punishable by the laws of his country.”

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