Editor, Times-Union:

As part of my series of letters on enacting term limit reform for all three branches of the federal government, I would like to focus on the Supreme Court and changing the lifetime tenure in office mandate.

For decades, fair numbers of Americans have complained about the “judicial activism” and an “imperial judiciary” and the inability to bring about accountability to the third branch of the federal government, whether one is left or right on major issues.

The majorities on the Supreme Court will shift back and forth over the course of time overturning one’s preferred precedents or even reversing an overturning of previous precedents. The issue of what precedents and court cases should be left in place will ultimately be addressed by Congress, constitutional amendment or the need to have supermajorities or an unanimous vote to overturn or create super precedents when it comes to Supreme Court cases and American freedoms. Five to four majorities on the court may not be sufficient any more when it comes to certain types of cases. The immediate issue is bringing about some level of accountability by We the People.

• First, a mandatory retirement age of no later than 80 should be enacted by constitutional ammendment as really should be the case for all three branches of government.

• Second, a term limit of no more than 25 years in office should be enacted.

• Third, besides impeachment and conviction by Congress for gross misconduct in office, a three-fourths majority of the total state legislatures should have this power also.

• Fourth, the Federal Judiciary Act of 1869 will need to be updated to add an additional two judges to court and create a code of conduct and judicial review procedures.

• Fifth, the state of Indiana already provides a ready-made solution to the problem. Its Supreme Court and Appeals Justices are subject to a vote to retain or not in office option since they are a non-elected position. One typically sees the question on Indiana ballots posed by the following manner further below. This concept should be enacted nationwide by constitutional amendment and should occur every four years on a staggered basis for U.S. Supreme Court justices confirmed to the bench. Any form of campaigning for or against the justices would be prohibited as this should be a nonpartisan task for voters to consider at the polls like we do for Indiana justices.

IC 33-24-2-5 Form of ballot for retention question

Sec. 5 The question of approval or rejection of a justice shall be placed on the general election ballot in the form prescribe by 1C 3-11 and must state “Shall Justice (insert name (as permitted under IC?3-5-7) here) be retained in office?”

I would urge readers to contact their elected officials in Congress and urge adoption of these measures.

Alexander Houze