Democrats Want Term Limits for the Supreme Court but not Themselves

Visibly upset that Donald Trump will get a third Supreme Court justice confirmed in less than four years, thumb-sucking Democrats are at it again.  Yet another variation of "change the rules in the middle of the game" has arisen from Democratland.

In addition to the "mail-in" ballot scheme to cast confusion on the presidential election, peppered with a good, old-fashioned, FDR-like threat to "pack the Court," congressional democrats fuming about Amy Coney Barrett now want " term limits"  for Supreme Court justices.

Sometime this week, in a shameless stunt of hypocrisy, House Democrats, led by Rep. Ro Khanna of California, will introduce a bill that would (a)  limit the tenure of a Supreme Court Justice to 18 years and (b) limit a president to appointing only two justices during his term in office.

Why is this a shameless stunt of hypocrisy?  Because congressional Democrats want term limits for the Supreme Court, but they don't want term limits for themselves.

To be specific, the Democrat's court-chopping bill lacks any provision for congressional term limits — as if Americans are all spun up about "term limits" for the Supreme Court but don't want term limits for Congress.

Just for fun, let's apply the Democrats' proposed 18-year limit on Supreme Court justices to several prominent members of the Democrat Congress and see where the chips fall.

Start with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  First elected in 1992, under the Democrats' court-whacking rule, Pelosi would have been gone by 2011 — that's nine years ago, before the end of Obama's first term.

How about Pelosi's trusty aide, Jim Clyburn?  You know, the House majority whip from South Carolina who single-handedly saved Joe Biden's presidential campaign by throwing his support behind the ex-veep in the South Carolina primary?  Clyburn, like Pelosi, would have been booted out nearly a decade ago.

But Pelosi and Clyburn, as old as they are, are mere pups compared to some other Democrat swamp-dwellers still in Washington.

Take for example, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will vet Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Leahy came to Congress 45 years ago, in 1975 — back when Nelson Rockefeller was vice president.  Anybody remember Nelson Rockefeller?

When Leahy came to Congress, the North Vietnamese were planning their final invasion of Saigon.

Under the current Democrat court-whacking plan, Leahy should have gone home in 1993, the year Clyburn, Pelosi, and Schumer came to Congress, who all should have been gone by 2011.

Then there's the old Democrat Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer.  "Cryin' Chuck," as the president calls him, came to Congress in 1981, nearly 40 years ago.  Schumer entered the swamp the year Reagan took office as president, and under the "18-year rule," he would have gone home by 1999, at the end of the last century.

Then there's Steny Hoyer of Maryland, now approaching 40 years in Congress.  Ol' Steny arrived in D.C. in 1981.  Applying the Democrat court-cutting bill to him, Steny should have packed his bags with his buddy Chuck Schumer in 1999, in the last century, the year George W. Bush announced his candidacy for president.

And finally, there's the ol' tail gunner himself, the Democrat presidential nominee, Joe Biden.

Fact is, Ol' Joe has been around Washington longer than his buddies Pat Leahy and Steny Hoyer.  Biden first came to the Senate in 1973, during the Nixon administration, when Apollo 17 astronauts walked on the moon, when John Dean testified before the Senate Watergate Committee, and the year the U.S. signed the Paris Peace Accords ending American involvement in the Vietnam war.

Since then, Joe has given us lots of bemusement, verbal fumbling, and an amazing torrent of contradictory word spewage.

From plagiarizing Neil Kinnock to telling President Obama not to send the SEALs to kill bin Laden, followed by an about-face on that tale, to forgetting where he went to school (he thinks he went to Delaware State — but the school says he was never a student) to claiming to be on a full academic scholarship and graduating in the top half of his law school class at Syracuse (which turned out not to be true) to mixing up his wife and his sister to "If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black," Joe's wordsmithery never ceases to amaze us. 

If the Democrats' 18-year rule had applied to ol' Joe, he would have left the swamp in January of 1991, in the final days of the George H.W. Bush administration.

Even if Joe later mixed up his wife and his sister, we would never have known.

Had Joe gone home in '91, we would have missed out on decades of cringe-worthy Bidenisms.

Who else would say, "They gon' put y'all back in chains," or "If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black"?


Bottom line: If the Democrats want to be taken seriously, they should step up to the plate and apply their Supreme Court term-limit scheme to themselves.  In retrospect, capping Pelosi, Schumer, Clyburn, and Biden to 18 years would have made America a better place.  All four have wrought lots of damage on the Constitution.

Until they place their own necks on the term-limit chopping block, the Democrats' latest proposal to limit terms of Supreme Court justices comes across as just what it is: a thumb-sucking stunt of sore-loser grandstanding.

As the Democrats propose another gimmicky rule-changing scheme, let's propose a toast.  Here's to Justice Barrett and to a lifetime of constitutional originalism on the Supreme Court.

Don Brown, a former U.S. Navy JAG officer, is the author of the book Travesty of Justice: The Shocking Prosecution of Lieutenant Clint Lorance.  He is one of four former JAG officers serving on the Lorance legal team.  Lorance was pardoned by President Trump in November of 2019.  Brown is also a former military prosecutor and a former special assistant United States attorney.  He can be reached at and on Twitter at @donbrownbooks.

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