Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rickie, you have some 'splainin' to do!

Rick Perry has released his plan to uproot and overhaul Washington. Perhaps he will make National Arborist a cabinet position.

One of the things that I've noticed about his speech (and this is common with most political speeches) is that it is long on sound bites, but short on specifics. My particular frustration is that the associated portion of his site does not go into much more detail.  It just rehashes the sound bites, outside the limited context of the speech. [EDITED: It appears that explanatory text has now been added. I must have hit the page before it was all available.]

One of the particular items I want to see more about is his proposal to eliminate lifetime appointments to the judiciary. It's one thing to say "[u]nder my plan, future appointees to the federal bench will not receive a lifetime appointment". It's quite another to lay out the particulars of how that would work.

I am concerned on how a limited term length might impact the thinking of a judge. If they know they have a lifetime appointment, then they can slowly refine their approach to the law over time. However, if they only have 18 years (as is outlined in one of Perry's suggestions), then I wonder if they wouldn't approach "big" cases differently, looking to make their mark on national jurisprudence, as it were.

One thing that Perry does not address is term limits. Once an individual has been appointed to a federal judgeship, is that it? Can they only serve one appointment? Further, while his plank putatively addresses the federal judiciary as a whole, all of the explanatory text merely refers to Supreme Court justices. What is his plan for the various circuit courts and appellate judges?

I'm not necessarily convinced that our justiciary is so broken that it needs to be completely revamped. He seems distinctly concerned with the Supreme Court, yet what percentage of cases in the federal docket are actually heard by the court? I'm sure it's less than 1%.

So, make a better case, please, other than "[d]oing this would move the court closer to the people by ensuring that every President would have the opportunity to replace two justices per term". I'm not so sure I want every President we elect nominating Justices to the bench.

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