Reforming The Federal Judiciar Essay, Research Paper
The founding Fathers of United States devised the federal judiciary in a successful effort to separate balance the power of the government they tried to establish. They believed that the judiciary branch must be independent in order to achieve the balanced government. The founders idea was success for the most parts, in theory as well as in practice. Yet over the years, a few unintelligent judges, through questionable rulings, have caused many Americans to begin to question the federal judiciary. It is ironic that the only not elected government body has the final say over the executive and legislative bodies that are elected by the people. I think reconstructing the judicial body is necessary and the good starting point would be to pass legislation reforming the federal judiciary, which should include term limits and elections of federal judges and justices.
In current system, federal judges and justices are appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate, as stated in the Constitution. (Federal Judiciary Homaepage) The appointment process works as a check on the judicial body by the executive and legislative bodies since the judges and justices owe their positions to the president and the senate. Even though this process looks rational, this appointment process has some negative side in it. Since the president and the senate appoint them, it is possible for them to behave or rule in favor of those who put them in the position. So the president or the senate could control the federal judiciary by appointing only the judges that share same political ideology. Also there were cases in which the federal courts ruled against popular consent of people and pass laws and legislatures to be implemented on unwilling public (Edwin). A democratic government should be able to represent popular consent of the people in passing and implementing laws. In order to achieve true democracy, the Supreme Court justices should be elected by the people, by the popular vote. Since the constitution itself was written for the people, people s view should be represented when it was interpreted for the people. Also the Supreme Court justices should play a role when federal judges are nominated and appointed. The election process might cost time and money. Yet in order to truly enjoy the rights that are given to people in the constitution, the cost is necessary.
Under current system, federal judges and justices hold their position for life once appointed unless they resign, retire voluntarily, or die. Federal judges who engage in deliberately illegal act may be removed from the position through the impeachment process even though it rarely happens. (Shmidt 490) The recent study shows that average tenure of Supreme Court justices are fifteen years. (Shmidt 492) The long life of justices and judges guarantees consistency of ruling. It is very rare to overturn a decision once determined by the courts. However the judges and justices are strongly criticized by people for being too remote from the real world since they stay in court for decades. Because of the life tenure of justices and judges, the presidents see their federal judiciary appointments as the one sure way to establish their political views after they have left the office. It is a fact that only the best of the best, both ethically and intellectually, area appointed to the federal judgeship, yet with life tenure and strong partisan attachment, it is hard for them to be fair to everyone. Also the life tenure of judgeship makes it hard for the federal courts to adjust to the fast-changing society. I think term limit should be considered for the federal judges and justices. Shorter (about 4 5 years) terms for the federal judges and longer term (about 8 10 years) should be given. By setting the term limits, the presidents would not be able to abuse the federal judgeship to implement their political views, and the court s view would assimilate the society s view better and quicker. This will also create more chances for younger and more talented people thus make them work harder to get the positions. The term limits for judges might result in inconsistency in ruling and the lame duck effect towards the end of their terms. Yet, since the society changes so fast, the court must change and adjust accordingly.
The public s concern about the power exercised by the court and policy making by unelected judges has grown over the year. Since the judicial body that works effectively and fairly is the backbone of the national economic and social development, some changes should be made so that the judicial branch can operate in people s interest rather than the president or the senate who select the judges and justices. In order to achieve true democratic republic, few changes need to be made about the terms and selection of federal judges and justices. First, people should be able to elect the judges and justices so that the popular opinion is reflected when the laws are passed and the Constitution is interpreted. As Teddy Roosevelt recommended in his 1912 presidential campaign;
.Let the nation decide at the next election whether to uphold or reject any Court decision creating a new “right” or overturning a state or federal law. It is the people and not the judges who are entitled to say what the Constitution means, for the Constitution is theirs, it belongs to them and not to their servants in office. x (Buchanan)
Also the terms of the federal judgeship should be changed from the life tenure to limited term. Term limits cycle judges out faster than the life tenure, and getting rid of bad judges is much more important than retaining good ones. Also preventing the other government body from using the judiciary branch as long lasting political support. These changes should be considered and passed into a law to restore the constitutional protections for individual freedom and self-government that were designed carefully by the founding fathers of this country to protect and empower the American people.