David Garrow Speaks About Elderly Ages of Supreme Court Justices

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia has revived the conversation of limiting the years of service for the Supreme Court justices. Scalia had been on the court for almost 30 years and was almost 80 years old, and 3 other justices are close to that age. Professor David Garrow commented on the ages of the current justices, saying, "One thing we can say in the present day is that the fact that we have a court that is elderly at the moment and there aren't any signs of decrepitude... is like the Florida Gulf Coast dodging a hurricane." He then went on to name a few past justices that stayed on the court longer than they should have, while they were suffering mental and physical declines.

Many people believe that there should be a limit of 18 years serving as a Supreme Court Justice, but the Constitution states that federal judges "shall hold their office during good behaviour," specifying no real end date. To add a limit to the justices' service the Constitution would have to be changed. This would require two-thirds of the House and the Senate, and 38 states to ratify the amendment. A few years ago Scalia himself said that he wished it were easier to amend the Constitution.

Read more of David Garrow's comments in "Some want to limit justices to 18 years on Supreme Court."