11 Justices and 20 year Term Limits

Remember, the Constitution does not specify the number of seats that are on the Supreme Court. This power was left to Congress, which set the Supreme Court’s size at one chief justice and five associates in the Judiciary Act of 1789.

It was legally changed seven times.

  • 1789-1807: six seats
  • 1807-1837: seven seats
  • 1837-1866: ten seats
  • 1866-1867: nine seats
  • 1867-1869: eight seats
  • 1869-present: nine seats

Democrats need to make it clear that any attempt to fill the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before January 20, 2021 in violation of their own self imposed Merrick Garland Rule that forbids Supreme Court nominations and confirmations during an election campaign will result in a wholesale reform of the court to be passed in January 2021.

That reform will expand the court to 11 seats in 2021, and then would establish 20 year terms for all justices that cannot be renewed. This term limit will be immediately applied to all justices currently serving, so as to establish a regular time table for retirements.

Two Justices currently serving, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer, are over that 20 year term limit. They will be required to retire at the end of the Supreme Court session in June 2021.

Chief Justice John Roberts has already served almost 15 years. His term will end on September 29, 2025. Justice Alito’s term will end on January 31, 2026. Justice Sotomayor’s term will end on August 8, 2029. Justice Kagan’s term will end on August 7, 2030. Justice Gorsuch’s term will end on April 10, 2037. Justice Kavanuagh’s term will end on October 6, 2038.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

6 comments on “11 Justices and 20 year Term Limits

  1. Mitch Crane

    Term limits require a Constitutional amendment. I am opposed to term limits. Let’s just take the presidency and both houses of Congress and then push for the appointment of qualified, progressive judges

    • Rick Reuling

      This isn’t an entirely settled matter. Larry Tribe, among other noted legal scholars, doesn’t believe the constitution requires lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court.

      It’s also abundantly clear that Congress is free to adjust the size of the court, as the Constitution only establishes that there will be a Supreme Court and it will have Chief Justice, and the judicial power will be vested there and in lower courts Congress creates. There’s no constitutional restriction on adding however many new justices desired.

      • Rick Reuling

        Also interesting to see Ted Kaufman quoted prominently in that press release.

  2. Zero chance this will happen. But feel free to dream.

    Biden will not commit to this as he knows electorally it is a complete non-starter.

    Only fringe lefties care about this.

    • Unlikely, but certainly a non-zero chance.

      Remind me not to take you to the races.

  3. Stan Merriman

    Increasing is logical: with 9 in 1869, our population was 1/10th what it is now, way less diverse, no women on the court then for decades and we had 17 fewer states.

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