What can we do about justices who cling to power that they are no longer completely fit to exercise? District and court of appeals judges are subject to Circuit Judicial Councils, which look into citizens’ grievances against their conduct (though not their specific rulings).I don't think this is such a great idea. We all can see what the Supreme Court Justices are doing. There's no need for a special council with the work of scrutinizing them. It would either be too political — pressuring Justices based on how much various politicians like or want to appear to like the outcomes they've voted for — or it would be suspected of being that.
Councils may then investigate and conduct hearings in confidence, and then perhaps order that at least temporarily no further cases be assigned to the judge whose conduct is in question. A council may censure a judge either privately or by a public pronouncement, or request his retirement. If a judge rejects a council’s advice, it could issue a statement to be considered by the House of Representatives that might initiate an impeachment proceeding.
Congress could establish a very similar process to apply to the justices....
This is not to suggest that any of our current Supreme Court justices should be addressed by such a discipline committee. But the mere existence of such a process would serve to remind our mortal justices that they have a right to serve during good behavior, not for life.
All that is needed is more frank discussion of age and its effects on the Justices, who don't get enough real-life feedback. Take this article — "Ginsburg Gives No Hint Of Giving Up the Bench," by Robert Barnes — published yesterday in the Washington Post:
The symposium on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life on and before the Supreme Court had all the trappings of a grand finale: laudatory tributes, scholarly evaluations of her jurisprudence, a running theme about her love of opera and her unfulfilled desire to be a great diva.The midpoint. Get it? Oh, isn't that cute? Nothing but warm support and encouragement for staying on as long as her heart desires it.
Conspicuously missing was any mention of an exit from the stage.
If anything, Ginsburg's appearance at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law -- and at a host of other events since the 76-year-old justice had surgery in February to remove a cancerous pancreatic tumor -- seemed intended to send a contrary message....
In a video tribute shown at Friday's day-long symposium, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. offered "my warm congratulations on the occasion of your reaching the midpoint of your tenure."
But I bet we can't stop talking like that. It would be mean. And it's wrong to discriminate based on age. Blah blah blah blah. Ugh! Maybe I should endorse Carrington's proposal!