It’s been hard to start this one because with new terrible things happening every day, all my dumb ideas feel like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Sometimes I don’t feel like there’s a lot I can do, but one of the things I’m good at is coming up with dumb ideas for fixing things and hopefully get people talking about changes. Or yelling at me about how dumb my ideas are. Either way.
I think we’re so focused on what’s going on this year (or this month, or this day, or this hour) that we’ve forgotten about the first train wreck that got us here, namely the 2016 election. I can’t image anyone who cared who won the election can be happy with the process. I want to talk about how we can start to fix how we elect Presidents. There are so many things that went wrong (none of which have to do with the “wrong” candidate winning) that I think extreme Constitutional reform needs to be talked about.
There was so much heat generated during 2016 and the years leading up to that year’s election. The heat needs to be turned down. One of the things I think is wrong with our elections is that the President simply has too much power. One of the rallying cries we hear from both major parties is “you have to vote for us, think about the Supreme Court!” But why do we give the President so much power over our judicial branch? I think one of the ways we can turn the temperature down on our elections is to lessen — not eliminate, but lessen — the President’s influence on the Supreme Court. Here’s my idea. As I’m sure will become immediately apparent, I haven’t formally studied the Constitution one bit. I’ve read it at least! Several times!
- Expand the Court to 15 seats. This gives each individual vote on the Court slightly less weight. Don’t panic if you think I’m giving anyone six free Supreme Court nominees; I’m not. Keep reading.
- Each seat is for 15 years, not a lifetime. Current Supreme Court Justices are grandfathered in and will have their terms automatically renewed. New Justices will permanently leave the court at the end of their terms, however. The terms will be staggered so that (eventually) we get a new Justice every year. If a seat opens due to death or retirement, the chosen Justice serves for the remainder of that seat’s term, not 15 years.
- New Supreme Court Justices are chosen randomly from a pool of eligible Circuit Court Judges. The Circuit Courts are the last level of courts an appeal goes to before it reaches the Supreme Court, and the process of appointing Circuit Court Justices is very similar to our current method of appointing Supreme Court Justices, but there’s a lot more of them. Read this Wikipedia entry if you want more information.
- You are an eligible Circuit Court Justice if:
- You are a Senior Circuit Court Justice,
- you have never served on the Supreme Court before,
- and there are no more than two Justices already on the Supreme Court that were appointed by the President who appointed you. That is, no President can have more than three appointees on the Supreme Court at once.
- Picky detail I: If there are no Senior Circuit Court Justices who are otherwise eligible, the eligibility pool will expand to include all Circuit Court Justices who have served at least five years. If there are still no eligible Justices, the pool will expand to all Circuit Court Justices regardless of how long they have served. If there are still no eligible Circuit Court Justices at that point, the Supreme Court seat will remain vacant for the rest of its term (yes, the whole 15 years if necessary). Under no circumstances will the three-justices-per-President quota be lifted.
- Picky Detail II: Current court seats will be arranged in reverse order of seniority (remember, Justices currently on the court are grandfathered in and their terms will automatically renew). The most senior Justice’s term will expire next year, second most the year after next, etc. etc.
- Every year the Supreme Court Justices will elect their own Chief Justice. Whoever gets the most votes wins. If there’s a tie, they revote until there is no tie.
- No stalling on Circuit Court Justice appointments. When a Circuit Court seat opens, the President has 30 days to nominate a Justice, and the Senate must vote on that appointee within 60 days, even if the President who made the appointment’s term has expired. If the Senate isn’t in session they must vote on the nominee within 30 days of reconvening, or within 60 days of nomination, whichever comes last.
If you’ve made it all the way down here, I thank you. I think I can bring all parties together by how much they hate my proposal. Comments are open but moderated, so play nicely — I joke about people yelling at me, but actual hostile posts won’t be approved. Posts directly bringing current events into the discussion won’t be approved either.