Poll: 70 Percent Want To Abolish Lifetime Tenure At Supreme Court

The Supreme Court's newest member, Sonia Sotomayor and Chief Justice John Roberts pose outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009, following her investiture ceremony. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Seven in ten Americans want to end lifetime appointments for Supreme Court justices, according to a new Harris poll out Wednesday.

Asked if justices should not have lifetime appointments, 41 percent “strongly” agreed and 28 percent “somewhat” agreed. Just 18 percent disagreed, 8 percent “strongly” and 10 percent “somewhat.” Twelve percent weren’t sure.

Lifetime tenure is baked into the U.S. Constitution, which provides that federal judges “shall hold their Offices during good Behavior.”

Some legal scholars have called for ending it, though; one idea is to replace it with a fixed 18-year term for Supreme Court justices including a lifetime salary.

Seventy percent of respondents also said the Supreme Court should “fairly represent the demographic (e.g., race, gender) makeup of the United States,” and 71 percent it should “fairly represent Americans’ diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.”

The Harris poll surveyed more than 2,000 adults online from Aug. 13-18. It does not state a margin or error.

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