Thursday, June 17, 2010
ConLawProf Mark Kende may be watching The World Cup, but he's thinking about comparative constitutional law, and more specifically, the appointment of high court justices.
In his Op-Ed in the Christian Science Monitor, Kende argues:
In South Africa, justices can serve up to 12 years. This is the equivalent of two full terms in the US Senate, so implementing term limits, which would appear to require a constitutional amendment, might be a good idea to ensure the president looks for the most qualified justice, not a relatively young one.
Adopting term limits for judges, as well as changing the entire selection process, would be as radical as when the US Soccer Federation reluctantly adopted FIFA standards for rules and calculating league standings. Then, that change was met with its fair share of resistance. But it led to the US hosting the 1994 World Cup, establishing a major soccer league, and strengthening its national teams to contender status on the eve of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
If that nation can be a showplace for America on the largest world sports stage of all, it could also serve as an example to an improved Supreme Court confirmation process.
Interestingly, South African ConLawProf Pierre de Vos, commenting on The World Cup closer at hand, has recently noted that there is some talk that the South African Constitutional Court Justices might move to a mandatory retirement age of 70 for justices. This would be more like the life-tenure American model, and quite like the Australian mandatory retirement age of 70 model.