Sunday, August 07, 2005

long live the justices?

I found it quite amusing that the Washington Post today ran op-ed pieces about the very old and about life-time tenure for Supreme Court justices. The Post drew no connection between the two stories -- but I will.

I see no evidence of dementia or senility for any current members of the Supreme Court -- but it's something worth considering, as medical technology lets people live longer and longer. Further, it is possible that the first person to live to be a thousand years old could already be alive. I think it is time to rethink the lifetime tenure for federal judges at all levels. Not just to make it less likely that somebody who is no longer mentally competent remains on a court -- but to prevent somebody from serving for hundreds of years. Terms can still be long; something along the lines of thirty years without the possibility of reappointment is more than adequate, and will insulate them from political pressures to keep their job.