*This is part threeof a three part series.
In part 1, I suggested that predictability is the real value that term limits have to offer, and that this ought to be the focus in nonpartisan arguments for judicial term limits. And in part 2, I tried to briefly address some of the practical problems that must be solved before term limits can be imposed. In this post I want to have a little fun thinking about what term limits might look like in real life.
In part 1 I mentioned the circumstances surrounding the 1968 election, which led to Nixon making four appointments to the Supreme Court in a single term. Let’s imagine that the public’s reaction to this revolution in the Court’s composition produced (quickly!) a constitutional amendment to impose the 18-year term limits we’ve been talking about. And let’s imagine that the only way the Republicans would go along with this, in 1972, was if everything could go into effect immediately—so that Nixon, who was a shoo-in for reelection (beating George McGovern 49 states to 1), could be assured the opportunity to appoint two more Supreme Court justices before leaving office. (Of course, no one would know at the time that Nixon would be forced to resign in 1974.)