“There is one idea, though, that has longstanding bipartisan support, a proven record of success, and practical wisdom behind it: term limits. Imposing term limits on Supreme Court justices would be good for the country and the court. It would help ease the bitterness of the confirmation process and make the court more representative of the public’s views. And while conservatives might currently balk in light of their 6-3 majority, it’s a change that would not necessarily advantage either side over the long run.
The most common version of this reform contemplates justices serving nonrenewable 18-year terms, staggered so that one term ends every two years. This would mean that presidents would get to nominate new justices in the first and third years of their own administrations. Retirements and nominations would occur like clockwork. The result would be a court whose membership, at any given time, would reflect the selections of the past 4 1/2 presidential administrations.
Because Article 3 of the Constitution confers life tenure upon all federal judges, term limits would likely require a constitutional amendment.”
“A 2006 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures examined states with term-limited lawmakers. It determined that term limits tend to increase the influence of lobbyists and lead to a “decline in civility” that “reduced legislators’ willingness and ability to compromise and engage in consensus building.”
Term-limited lawmakers, the NCSL explained, “have less time to get to know and trust one another” and “are less collegial and less likely to bond with their peers, particularly those from across the aisle.”
Such lawmakers often do not have enough time to learn how the legislature works or to master difficult policy issues. And they can’t turn to senior colleagues to give them this information because there are no senior colleagues. That “forces term-limited legislators to rely on lobbyists for information,” because lobbyists are able to spend years mastering legislative process and developing institutional memory about recurring policy debates.”
“term limits may foster laziness in lawmakers because, as Nyhan writes, “incumbents who lack a reelection incentive can reduce the effort they devote to their jobs.” He cites an empirical study showing that term-limited lawmakers sponsor fewer bills and are more likely to miss votes.”