The Regulation of Turnover on the Supreme Court

There have been several recent proposals to abolish life tenure for Supreme Court Justices in favor of fixed terms. Professor Farnsworth of-fers the first substantial defense of the constitutional system of life tenure. Professor Farnsworth contends that most of the suggested benefits of fixed terms are speculative, illusory, or would cause additional, perhaps greater, problems than those they are intended to resolve. While the au-thor admits that the current system is far from perfect, he suggests that life tenure serves many useful purposes, some of which are not obvious on initial inspection. The author also argues for a serious consideration of various reforms to the current system that are less drastic than eliminat-ing life tenure altogether. Professor Farnsworth concludes by suggesting that we more fully consider the consequences and implications of life tenure so that we might find ways to improve the system without resorting to constitutional amendment.

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