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Khanna And Beyer Reintroduce SCOTUS Term Limits Bill Following The Court Blocking Student Debt Relief

Today, Representatives Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Don Beyer (VA-08) reintroduced The Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act following the Supreme Court’s decision to block the Biden Administration’s Student Debt Relief Plan. 

Since 1980, the cost of college has tripled while federal aid and wages have not kept up. Student debt borrowers today collectively owe more than $1.6 trillion while a majority of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Biden v. Nebraska blocked the Biden Administration’s plan to forgive $10,000 of student loan debt for non-Pell Grant recipients and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients making less than $125,000. 90% of this debt relief  would have directly benefited borrowers earning less than $75,000 per year.  

According to a recent poll, only 37% of Americans have confidence in the Supreme Court while 68% support term limits for Supreme Court justices. The Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act will restore judicial independence by creating an 18-year term limit for justices appointed after the law is enacted. After their 18-year terms, justices would then be allowed to continue their service on lower courts. 

“The Supreme Court’s decision to block student debt relief will put many hardworking Americans at risk of default and will be a disaster for our economy,” said Rep. Ro Khanna. “Our Founding Fathers intended for lifetime appointments to ensure impartiality. The decision today demonstrates how justices have become partisan and out of step with the American public. I’m proud to reintroduce The Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act to implement term limits to rebalance the Court and stop extreme partisanship.”

“For many Americans, the Supreme Court is a distant, secretive, unelected body that can make drastic changes in their lives without any accountability,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “Recent partisan decisions by the Supreme Court that destroyed historic protections for reproductive rights, voting rights and more have undermined public trust in the Court – even as inappropriate financial relationships between justices and conservative donors raised new questions about its integrity. I have long supported reforming the Supreme Court to limit terms to end lifetime tenures and ensure the Court remains a fair and impartial arbiter of justice. Our bill would achieve this and help restore balance to a heavily politicized Court.”

“After decades of controversial, highly politicized confirmation hearings and partisan gamesmanship over lifetime seats on the bench, the Supreme Court is facing a crisis of legitimacy. This bill to establish term limits is one of the critical actions necessary to depoliticize the Court and restore public trust in the institution,” said Rep. Barbara Lee. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bill with Reps. Khanna, Beyer, and Tlaib to set term limits for Justices and finally end the arbitrary nature of Supreme Court vacancies.”

“My residents are demanding that I move with the urgency this moment calls for,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib. “We cannot allow six extremist, unelected activists to continue to do the bidding of billionaire Republican donors from the bench. This illegitimate Supreme Court has become a cesspool of corruption and is in urgent need of reform. It’s time to end lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court.”

“It’s absolutely clear that the Supreme Court is in desperate need of reform including an expansion and rebalance of the Court, a ban on financial conflicts of interest and code of ethics, to term limits,” said Rep. Adam Schiff. “This bill would provide a practical solution to address these serious concerns and restore a sense of fairness and accountability to a deeply politicized Court. It is time to ensure that the highest court of our land reflects the highest values and aspirations of the American people.” 

“In the modern era, lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court have grown longer and more politicized, limiting oversight and accountability,” said Rep. Katie Porter. “As the branch closest to the people, Congress has a constitutional responsibility to enact checks on the justices, who are unelected. I’m backing term limits for the Supreme Court to restore confidence and fairness to our nation’s highest judicial body.”

“Lifetime appointments for Supreme Court Justices raise the stakes, erase accountability, and imbue partisan gamesmanship into every opening on the Supreme Court,” said Rep. Sean Casten. “The Court’s recent actions attacking women’s reproductive freedom, gun violence prevention and long standing environmental laws show how our nation’s highest court has concentrated their hold on power over the lives of Americans. Implementing term limits for Supreme Court Justices will go a long way to curtail the politicization of the Supreme Court and rebalance it with the will of the American people.”

“Members of Congress, presidents, and vice presidents already have term limits: they’re called elections,” said Rep. John Garamendi. “In addition to other reforms needed to restore ethics and accountability at the Supreme Court, we need term limits for justices who serve on the highest court in the land for life. Short of amending the judiciary brand article of the U.S. Constitution, Congressman Khanna’s bill provides a solution to hold Supreme Court justices to account so they can serve out their lifetime appointments on other federal courts after 18 years of service.”

"No one in a democracy should possess unchecked power for life, yet that's exactly what the nine justices have today,” said Gabe Roth, Executive Director of Fix the Court. “Luckily, there's a popular, apolitical way to fix this: by requiring future justices to take 'senior status' after 18 years, at which point they'd fill in at SCOTUS when needed, rotate down to a lower court or retire. This idea forms the basis of Rep. Khanna's bill, and I'm pleased to support his work to establish fundamental guardrails for the most powerful, least accountable part of our government."