WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, July 26, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) introduced H.R. 8500, the Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization (TERM) Act. The TERM Act establishes 18-year term limits for U.S. Supreme Court justices and creates regular appointments in the first and third years following a presidential election. This means that a new Supreme Court justice would join the bench every two years, with each president receiving the opportunity to appoint two justices during each four-year presidential term. To contend with the current nine justices on the Court, the TERM Act mandates them to retire from active service in order of seniority as each new, regularly appointed justice joins the Court.
The U.S. Constitution outlines that federal judges “shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour,” which has typically been understood to guarantee lifelong appointments. To work around this provision, the TERM Act requires justices to assume senior status after they complete their 18-year terms; these senior status justices will continue with official duties and compensation.
The six other House co-sponsors include Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), several chairs of House Judiciary subcommittees and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who introduced a term limits bill last year. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is introducing the corresponding TERM Act in the U.S. Senate.