With the Republicans showing some spine and elevating Judge Neil McGill Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, there is reason to celebrate. Antonin Scalia’s seat has been filled by someone who may be able to do it justice, if you’ll allow the pun. Really, only time will tell, since we’ve been burned before.
Conservatives have a long tradition of being sorely disappointed in our Republican Presidents’ selection: Richard Nixon selected Lewis Powell and Harry Blackmun; Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor; George H.W. Bush picked David Souter. Most recently, however, George W. Bush picked John Roberts.
When the Supreme Court voted 6-3 in King v. Burwell to uphold the subsidies undergirding Obamacare, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, making it the second time he preserved Barack Obama’s nation-debilitating health program. In fact, when Justice Scalia wrote the dissent, he accused the other justices of rewriting the law to make sure it was upheld. “We should be calling this SCOTUScare,” he wrote.
In other words, we should not be too jubilant over the Gorsuch. The best-case scenario is that we’ve held our ground after losing a great originalist on the Court. Hopefully, we’ve replaced him with another meaning we haven’t gained ground but have defended a position. Remember, this “new” court has the same ideological balance as the court that gave us Obamacare and Obergefell.
It’s time to change our perspective on the Court. The reason we have such intense fights over SCOTUS appointments is because they’re lifetime appointments.
At 49 years of age, Gorsuch is likely to serve on the court for upwards of 30 years, having a generational impact on the jurisprudence of the nation. When the Founders created the Supreme Court, the average age of appointment was 47. Average life expectancy was 54. The Founders never intended for jurists to serve for decades. This was inconsistent with their beliefs on “rotation in office.”
It is time to impose term limits on all federal judges. Lifetime appointments are antithetical to our system of governance and lead to radical partisanship. Understandably, since the stakes are so high every time we appoint a Supreme Court Justice. What if we appointed them for fixed terms, of perhaps 8 years? While we would still fight about those appointments, as we should, the consequences of individual appointments would be much more limited, and thus the temperature and partisanship of those fights would likely decrease. In other words, the system is now structured in a way that gives Supreme Court justices much more power and influence in our society than the Founders ever intended. We must correct this problem.
Though the Founders considered the Supreme Court to be the “weakest branch” of government as envisioned and created, it has become the most powerful. According to their own opinions, their power is limited only by their own “good judgment.” The Founders would be horrified and every citizen should be too. It is time to limit the power and influence of the Supreme Court by Constitutional Amendment. We can do so by imposing term limits on federal judges. We can also do so by giving a super-majority of the states the power to override decisions of the Supreme Court. These types amendments would help return federalism to our system of governance, and transfer control of government back to we the people.
You might be thinking, correctly, there’s no way on earth that our federal government would voluntarily restrict itself with those types of amendments… and you’re right. However, the founders gave Americans Article V for such a moment as this. By calling a Convention of States, citizens can amend the Constitution without permission of Congress or the President. After all the drama over the failed Obamacare “repeal,” after all the vitriol spewed during the Gorsuch hearings, the only way that we can really make America great again is by going back to the Founders’ original vision for this nation. This effort already has 2.2 million activists. Ten states have already passed an application to call for a Convention of States, and we only need twenty-four more to force Congress to act.
During the Gorsuch hearings, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), asked the nominee about the separation of powers. Gorsuch replied that the separation of powers is “the genius of the Constitution.” He went on to say, “Article II, the president’s job, is to faithfully execute your laws, and our job, Article III, down at the bottom, is to make sure that the cases and controversies of the people are fairly decided.”
But the Founders didn’t stop there. Article V gave us – the citizens – the power to keep all of them in check. We already have that power, and it’s the duty of all Americans to honor our Founders by using it.