Rick Perry Pledges to Disembowel Madison’s Judiciary

When the Founders set out to create the federal court system, James Madison and his colleagues ultimately settled on a system designed to insulate judges from the political arena, so that they could not be coerced into compliance with a political agenda by threats of arbitrary termination, or of financial manipulation. As such, Article III of the Constitution currently states that federal judges  “shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.” U.S. Const., Art. III, § 1. Both guarantees are absolutely vital to the independence of the federal bench, as all five conservative justices of the Supreme Court recently explained, per Chief Justice Roberts. See Stern v. Marshall, slip op. at 17-18 (pdf).

But no longer, in Rick Perry’s America. Perry today called for term-limits for all federal judges, pledging to (functionally) abrogate an element of the Constitution that dates to the Declaration of Independence (see ¶ 11, “He has made Judges…”). So much for Tea Partier “respect” for the Constitution.

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3 comments

  1. “So much for Tea Partier “respect” for the Constitution.”

    You wouldn’t change anything about the Constitution as it stands today? No further amendments of any sort? Really?

    I doubt that’s the case, and yet I don’t doubt that despite wanting to make changes to it you do respect the Constitution. I think it’s possible for you to do both because respecting it and agreeing with it – or even agreeing with all its underlying principles – in full aren’t the same thing. Not to mention, as I’ve read it observed elsewhere, respecting the Constitution should include respecting Article Five.

    That said, I agree with you that what Perry’s proposed is (probably) a crappy idea and would worsen, not improve, the Constitution. I say probably because the article doesn’t include the details of what the “term limits” would be and it’s possible, however likely, that they might be something I’d agree with. Specifically, they could be a mandatory retirement age or a Single Long But Not Ridiculously So term like 30 or 35 years. That wouldn’t interfere with the judiciary’s independence any and would prevent things like Kennedy appointees still being on the bench today or Truman appointees on the bench into the 21st century.

    Personally, I’d prefer the mandatory retirement age. I look at the current Supreme Court, for instance, and feel like Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Breyer should all be retired at their ages, and no way do I want Alito and Sotomayor serving until they’re 85 or older.

    1. Crap. I was trying for a “possible, however unlikely”.

    2. Yeah, mandatory retirement at age 70 or so for judges exists pretty much everywhere else in the (Western) world already, so I can confirm that such a thing does not destroy democracy as we know it.

      Not that I think Perry even put that much thought into it, mind you – he’s pretty much just throwing stuff at the wall by now and hoping something sticks.

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