Seeking “balance and fairness,” four U.S. senators have introduced the Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization Act, which would establish term limits for justices.

According to a press release, the TERM Act would require a new justice to take the bench every two years and spend a total of 18 years in active service.

“Far-right groups have spent years working to tip the Supreme Court’s balance in their favor, leaving us with an outcome-driven Court that increasingly disregards precedent, separation of powers, and the rule of law,” said Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii.


The conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings have prompted Democratic senators to propose term limits for justices. Nick Grube/Civil Beat/2019

She continued: “We are already seeing the detrimental consequences of this right-wing power grab — from overruling common sense gun safety law, and restricting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to combat climate change, to eliminating the fundamental right to abortion care. We need to restore balance and fairness to our nation’s highest court. Creating term limits for Supreme Court justices is a first step in that process.”

Hirono is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) are co-introducers of the Term Act.

The current high court has a 6-3 conservative majority.

Hirono’s office says the legislation would “preserve life tenure” by ensuring that senior justices retired from regular active service continue to hold the office of Supreme Court justice, including official duties and compensation.

It would also require the Supreme Court justice who most recently assumed senior status to fill in on the Court if the number of justices in regular active service falls below nine.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA-04) introduced companion legislation last week in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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