In part 1, I tried to briefly explain why the argument for term limits should be focused on the nonpartisan value of increased apolitical predictability in the Court’s appointment process. Justices shouldn’t be tempted to base their retirement decisions on partisan politics, and we shouldn’t be left to speculate wildly about when the next justice might retire—or about how many appointments the next president might get.
But once we agree term limits are a good idea (and 70% of the public agrees on this), we must shift to the practical concerns that surround the actual implementation of term limits. Right off the bat, at least four questions (or problems) arise:
1. How long should the term limits be?
2. What about the filibuster and other attempts to deprive a president of an appointment?
3. What about the role of Chief Justice—how does that work in a fixed-term system?
4. How do we transition? That is, how do we impose fixed terms on nine sitting justices who everyone expected to have lifetime appointments?
Now, I’m no scholar on these matters, and I assume others have addressed them already, in one way or another. But here are my thoughts: