Newly Launched Project "Come To Terms" Calls On Future Supreme Court Nominees To Pledge To Serve No Longer Than 18 Years On High Court

Widely supported effort aims to restore the Supreme Court's independence from the pressure and influence of partisan politics

May 27, 2015, 08:00 ET from Come to Terms

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A new initiative calling on the next nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court to pledge to serve a single, standard term of 18 years launched today under the banner Come to Terms. A project of Supreme Court watchdog Fix the Court, Come to Terms highlights the court's increased partisan decision-making and timing of retirements from the bench; extraordinary generations-long tenures that render justices out of touch with everyday Americans; and lack of professional diversity and real-world experience as significant reasons for change.

Come to Terms' 18-year proposal is supported by two-thirds of American primary voters across party lines, as well as by a broad coalition of constitutional scholars and legal experts.

"The current system of lifetime appointments and sporadic retirements is broken and a far cry from its original intent," said Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court. "Lifetime appointments were supposed to shield Supreme Court justices from the influence of partisan politics. Instead, under Chief Justice John Roberts, we have a court with the most 5-4 decisions in our nation's history. Clearly, something isn't working. Come to Terms offers a reasonable solution to decrease political gamesmanship on the court and increase the court's connection to everyday Americans. No one needs more than 18 years in the high stakes and extremely powerful position of Supreme Court justice."

Come to Terms and the legal and constitutional experts who helped shape the 18-year proposal recognize the danger of intertwining the U.S. Supreme Court so closely with partisan politics at a time when the critical independence of the court has never been more important.

"We can and must expect better from the Supreme Court," said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law and author of The Case Against the Supreme Court. "Lifetime appointments lead to too much power exercised by a single person for too long a period of time. Clarence Thomas was 43 years old when he was confirmed for the Supreme Court in 1991. If he remains on the Court until he is 90, the age at which Justice Stevens retired, he will sit on the Supreme Court for 47 years. On top of that, the future of the court depends wholly on the accident of when vacancies occur. Richard Nixon had four vacancies to fill in his first two years as President; Jimmy Carter had none in his four years as President. The solution is 18-year, non-renewable terms for Supreme Court justices."

Come to Terms' initiative launches at a time when the average tenure of a Supreme Court justice has spiked from 14.9 years before 1970 to 26.1 years today. Some justices serve a decade or longer past the death of the president that appointed them, and vacancies and nominations occur sporadically and unpredictably, creating the potential for one president to nominate five justices to the court and the next president to nominate none.

Come to Terms' "18-Year Pledge" allows the American people to see which judicial nominees are willing to do their part to address the broken system and put people over politics. Individuals wishing to join Come to Terms in calling on the next Supreme Court nominee to commit to serving a single, standard term of 18 years may sign the petition at


PRESS: For more information about Come to Terms, or to schedule an interview with a spokesperson, please contact Jackie Matthews at or 323-892-2080. Speakers available for print, radio and television interviews include:

Gabe Roth, Executive Director of Fix the Court

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at University of California, Irvine School of Law, author of The Case Against The Supreme Court (2014)

Robert Burt, Alexander M. Bickel Professor of Law at Yale Law School, author of The Constitution in Conflict (1995)

Sanford Levinson, Garwood Centennial Chair at University of Texas at Austin School of Law, author of Framed: America's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance (2012)

Paul Carrington, Professor Emeritus of Law at Duke Law School, author of Reforming the Supreme Court: Term Limits for Justices (2006)

Alan Morrison, Associate Dean for Public Interest and Public Service Law at George Washington Law School, co-founder of Public Citizen Litigation Group

Theodore St. Antoine, Professor Emeritus at University of Michigan Law School, author of "Color Blindness but Not Myopia: A New Look at State Action, Equal Protection, and 'Private' Racial Discrimination"

About Come to Terms, a Project of Fix the Court:
Come to Terms is a new initiative launched by the nonpartisan grassroots organization Fix the Court. The goal of Come to Terms is to raise awareness of the serious problems caused by appointing justices to the U.S. Supreme Court for life, such as increased partisan politicking on the court, extraordinarily long tenures that render justice out-of-touch with everyday Americans, and a lack of professional diversity and real-world experience on the court. Come to Terms' goal is to engage the American people to call on the next justice appointed to the Supreme Court to pledge to serving no longer than 18 years on the court.

Learn more about Come to Terms:

Learn more about Fix the Court:

SOURCE Come to Terms