Supreme Court Reforms

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In the case of reforms of the Supreme Court, I suppose that an update is necessary to adjust to the modern world. Over the past couple of decades, nominations over the high court have increasingly become more political. According to Article II of the Constitution, Supreme Court justices must be nominated by the President and approved by the Senate.

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But many more factors contribute to this process nowadays including interest groups, public opinion, and the media. This change could be explained by the increased access to daily news the public did not always have (TV, Internet, Smartphones, etc.). The greater influence of the public can affect the appointments of the high courts. Greater home-state public support does significantly and strikingly increase the probability that a senator will vote to approve a nominee, even controlling for other predictors of roll-call voting. These results establish a systematic and powerful link between constituency opinion and voting on Supreme Court nominees. This leads to more of a majoritarian type of judicial system rather than representation. I do not think the Framers could have predicted such an influx of influence outside of the Executive and Legislative branches. Therefore, reforms would only make sense to implement into the Judicial Branch.

The first reform I would input is an increase of the number of justices in the Supreme Court. Reason being is because the now larger population of the US needs a larger Supreme Court. The Judiciary Act of 1869 called for a Chief Justice and eight associate Justices to serve in the Supreme Court back when the population of the United States was shy of 32,000,000. Now the population of the US is approximately ten times greater than it was in 1869. Increasing the number of associate Justices by at least 50% would perhaps delegate the workload a little better. Afterall, the volume of cases in 1869 was a lot lower than the volume of cases today.

Next, I would implement an eighteen-year term limit for all court Justices. This would eliminate or reduce most of the major forms of strategic behavior that flow from the current life tenure arrangements.

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