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Wed Jun 27, 2012, 04:02 PM

How about a Constitutional amendment making some requirements for SC Justices

I know everyone will have their opinion as to what to put in it.

I don't want to get rid of judicial review or even change the lifetime appointment of judges - both have worked for us as much as against us.

However, I want strict ethics rules that must be followed by the Js no going hunting w/ Cheney, etc. oversight by Congress. I don't think that they should be held just to the cannons for judges, but stricter than that.
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Reply How about a Constitutional amendment making some requirements for SC Justices (Original post)
ashling Jun 2012 OP
unblock Jun 2012 #1
ashling Jun 2012 #2
unblock Jun 2012 #3
ashling Jun 2012 #4

Response to ashling (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 04:10 PM

1. i think the more sound solution is simply to bring the count up to 15, 17, or 19 justices.

the real problem is that enforcement of ethical requirements has been and will always be a political matter, constitutional amendment or not.

we already have a broad restriction and enforcement mechanism, namely impeachment and removal.

amending the constitution to be a bit more specific wouldn't really accomplish much, because at the end of the day, the same washington politicals would come into play in terms of enforcement.


just having a larger number of justices would go a long way toward diluting the effects of any one corrupt justice, and would make corrupting enough justices to matter harder and more problematic to manage.

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Response to unblock (Reply #1)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 04:33 PM

2. I certainly think that having a larger number of justices

is a good idea, but I respectfully disagree as to having an amendment.
You say that the politics comes into play in terms of enforcement ... right now the size of the court is at the discretion of congress - how is that not political?

An amendment codifying ethical and possibly other requirements for recusal from cases or even removal from the court in sever instances would tend to take politics out of it.

You are right that impeachment is political, but that is to a large degree because the constitution is vague about what constitutes cause for impeachment.

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Response to ashling (Reply #2)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 04:48 PM

3. how specific do you want this amendment to be?

constitutional amendments usually paint the broad picture and leave the specifics to federal law, and the implementation of whatever mechanism they propose.

so, in the case of justices, we could add something like "improper association with parties of cases before the court". well, then what's considered "improper" then becomes political. i'm not saying it wouldn't be an improvement to have something more specific, just that i don't think it would be much of an improvement unless there were some very specific and restrictive things listed -- and the more specifics you have, the less likely it is to get people to agree on such an amendment.


you're certainly right that the number of justices on the court is a matter of federal law and as such is political; however, it has been stable at nine since 1869, so it seems somewhat immune to the usual political whiplash. of course, that stability suggests that hiking the number isn't likely to happen either.

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Response to unblock (Reply #3)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 05:36 PM

4. Well it certainly got political when FDR tried it

a switch in time saves nine

There is no reason that an amendment could not be made more specific than others in the past

the 11th Amendment is fairly specific.

Amendment XI

The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.


It was passed very quickly in response to the court's ruling in Chisolm v. Georgia. Obviously the process was speedier when there were only a handful of states. I don't accept that it cannot be done because of the vagueness of my proposal - it is, after all, only a proposal. I think that it should not be rejected out of hand.

Two of Nixon's appointments to the Court were rejected because of appearance of impropriety. That can be spelled out - as it is in the canons of judicial ethics as I recall -
That is a pretty good place to start.

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