United States Supreme Court (front row L-R) Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan, (back row L-R) Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson pose for their official portrait at the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court building on October 7, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Nancy Pelosi Is Right: There ‘Certainly Should Be Term Limits’ for Supreme Court Justices

Here’s a fun fact: millennials are the largest generation in the United States, clocking in at 22 percent of the country. Here’s a not-so-fun fact: millennials account for just 12 percent of Congress members. Conversely, Boomers make up 21 percent of the U.S. population and 45 percent of Congress members. (Calm down, Gen X, you’re also overly represented in Congress; it’s not that I forgot about you, it’s just that you got to buy houses in the Great Recession, and I’m bitter. Also, before some math-y person points it out, the data I’m referencing also includes children, so it’s not perfect, but it does a good job demonstrating that older generations have a disproportionate amount of power in our federal government.) So it is with this energy that I share the following: Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi thinks there should be term limits for Supreme Court Justices. Just the Justices?! Per The Hill:

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Pelosi said on MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki” that there “certainly should be term limits” for the justices.

“Here we have a body … chosen for life. Never have to run for office. Nominated, confirmed for life, with no accountability for their ethics behavior,” Pelosi said.


“If nothing else, there should be some ethical rules that would be followed,” Pelosi said

As a reminder, both Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas have respective Republican sugar daddies who buy them things and, in Alito’s case, get their cases heard in front of the Supreme Court. As another reminder, the only way to remove a Supreme Court Justice is to impeach them in the House, and then obtain a conviction by the Senate via a two-thirds majority vote. So, you know, that’s never going to happen. Thanks, partisanship! Chief Justice John Roberts doesn’t seem motivated to enforce ethics on the bench, either, so it’s just a free for all.

Pelosi was quick to point this out, too:

Pelosi said on MSNBC that it’s “shameful” how Thomas and Alito “have been so cavalier about their violations of what would be expected of a justice of the Supreme Court.” She added of the approval rating that “30 percent seems high.”

I mean, 25 percent of the country identifies as Republican, so to me that number seems accurate.

Term limits on Supreme Court Justices sound great; term limits for any elected official sound great! Given the breakdown of who’s in power, which I shared above, it’s not feasible. The average number of years a Congress member has served in the 118th Congress is 8.5, and the average number of years for a Senator is 11.2. Only 13.6 percent of Representatives opted not to seek reelection in 2021. Prior to the 1860s that number was 40 percent! The point being is that individuals are staying in power for as long as they can. At least in Congress, they might lose an election. Remember: a Supreme Court Justice is an appointment for life!

Of course, there’s another solution—adding more Justices to the bench—but Pelosi isn’t so keen on this:

The former Speaker was less definitive about possible expansion of the court, but said it’s “a discussion.”

“It’s been over 150 years since we’ve had an expansion of the court. It was in the time of Lincoln that it went up to nine, so the subject of whether that should happen is a discussion — it’s not, say, a rallying cry, but it’s a discussion,” Pelosi said.

Now, I happen to think Nancy Pelosi is possibly the greatest Speaker of the House of all time (for many reasons, including this one.) However, this answer kind of sucks. At what point does adding more Justices to the bench become the rallying cry? After the Republicans have systematically stripped everyone’s rights away from them, and the Supreme Court has backed them up every step of the way? We’re fighting for our lives here.

Unfortunately, as it stands now, packing the court is also a pipe dream. It would require both chambers in Congress to pass a bill and the President to sign it. Remember: Kevin McCarthy and his annoying band of goons control the House right now, and the filibuster is still alive and (un)well in the Senate. All of which means it’s essential to vote in the next federal election and let your candidates know you’re unhappy with how the Supreme Court functions and you want them to do something about it if elected. It’s all we’ve got, but it could be enough to enact change on the Supreme Court … eventually.

(featured image: Alex Wong, Getty Images)

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Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson (no, not that one) has been writing about pop culture and reality TV in particular for six years, and is a Contributing Writer at The Mary Sue. With a deep and unwavering love of Twilight and Con Air, she absolutely understands her taste in pop culture is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. She is the co-host of the popular Bravo trivia podcast Bravo Replay, and her favorite Bravolebrity is Kate Chastain, and not because they have the same first name, but it helps.