An Ipsos poll for Reuters found that a majority of Americans want to end lifetime appointments for US Supreme Court justices, though less than half are in favour of other efforts to reform the judiciary.
The national opinion poll found that 63% of adults supported term or age limits for Supreme Court justices. Another 22% said they opposed any limits and the rest did not express an opinion. The news comes against the backdrop of proposed legislation by House Democrats to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court. Given Democrats’ control of the White House and Senate, the legislation could allow the party to supersede the court’s current conservative majority by “packing” the court with liberal justices.
Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law professor emeritus and Trump impeachment-defence veteran, reflects on whether the Supreme Court can lose its independence, and what might be the consequences of the Supreme Court reform for the two-party system in the US.
Sputnik: Republicans have slammed the proposed legislation as an attempt to deprive the Supreme Court of its independence. What’s behind this legislation and what’s your take on the GOP’s opposition to it?
Alan Dershowitz: Well, the Democrats clearly are just trying to take over the Supreme Court. They want to get enough justices to guarantee that they will always have a majority. They want to add five justices, four under the new legislation, and then they want to pressure Justice Breyer to resign from the Supreme Court so that President Biden can appoint yet a fifth new person to the Supreme Court. That would give them an assured majority over the next many years and would politicise the Supreme Court and turn it into yet another political branch of the government, which is the last thing American democracy needs.
I think the Supreme Court would lose its independence, if every time a party got control of the Senate and the presidency, they could appoint new justices and simply determine how the Supreme Court votes on controversial cases. That’s the goal. The goal is to turn the Supreme Court into an institution controlled by one party. Each party would like to do that. And Americans who care about liberty and checks and balances, the separation of powers have to resist that, whether we’re Democrats like I am or Republicans.