The American system of life tenure gives some presidents too much influence on the Supreme Court and others too little. Four presidents have appointed six or more justices, while four other presidents have appointed none. And historically, some justices have remained on the Court when they are unable either physically or mentally to do the job.
The solution is for Republicans and Democrats to unite in supporting a constitutional amendment that fixes the size of the Supreme Court at its current nine justices, each of whom would serve an 18-year nonrenewable term. Terms would be staggered so that one-term presidents would be guaranteed two appointments; two-term presidents would get four.
An 18-year term is long enough for justices to remain plenty independent. And presidents would no longer have an incentive to pick younger nominees in order to influence the Court decades into the future.
Term limits would depoliticize the Supreme Court and the now-poisonous process of selecting new justices and thus promote the rule of law.
Professor of Law, Northwestern University