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The Supreme Court should not have lifetime appointments for justices (Op-Ed)

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has been responsible for making landmark legal decisions and setting precedents in our society for centuries.

 As the highest court in the land, the individuals who are appointed hold an innate responsibility to the wellbeing, protection, and advocacy of the citizens of the United States. When nominated by a sitting president and confirmed by the Senate for a lifetime appointment to the court, it is incredibly important to ensure that these individuals, known as justices, are morally and ethically sound, well-educated and knowledgeable on the law, and well-versed in the issues, values, and dilemmas that influence the U.S.

However, in the 21st century, we as a nation are seeing some questionable decision-making with significant consequences from these 9 individuals in D.C. 

As it stands, SCOTUS consists of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and associate justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, the most recently appointed justice, taking her seat in June of 2022. Alternatively, Chief Justice Roberts assumed his seat in September of 2005, according to the Supreme Court’s website. 

Simply put, SCOTUS and other federal judges are the only public servants in the U.S. government that serve lifetime appointments, meaning that they are bound to the responsibilities of the court until they either pass away or willfully retire, which is a relatively uncommon move. 

As well, these judges are hearing court cases that are so controversial and complicated that they must be decided by the most powerful legal entity in the country, setting the precedent for how similar cases are handled in the future, and having a major influence on lower levels of law and public opinion.

Why then, are we allowing these individuals, with some nearing retirement age already, to handle these contemporary issues that will continue to evolve?

Although prohibited from registering and affiliating with a political party, it is glaringly obvious that certain justices were hand-selected by presidents that aligned with either the Republican or Democratic party. Through this, they are sure to increase their chances of confirmation from a similarly-aligned senate, therefore allowing more political influence into legal decisions that are important to a president or congressperson’s constituents. 

This strategy is enabled and supported for long-term influence with very little agency to remove the justice, allowing for entire generations of Americans to be subjected to the decision-making of an undeniably partisan court. 

It’s time to re-evaluate, and ensure that justice precedes party in this institution once again.

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