April 14, 2016 at 1:39 am #5872
One thing to consider as life spans expand, say to the 160 years suggested by Bess, are the implications this will have on courts with lifetime appointments. Judges’ influence will be magnified as they can sit on courts such as the Supreme Court for decades longer, expanding their influence. Politically, these older justices may have antiquated ideas from their era that do not reflect the current thoughts on important issues. In this case, they could possibly block important legislation for long periods of times with their rulings, leading to significant problems. As a country, we would have to face and solve these problems before they cause significant damage, rising to the occasion by changing some parts of our Constitution that currently seem permanent. For me, the solution seems to be putting term limits on justices that are long enough to let them influence somewhat, but keep it within bounds so they are not overbearing. I would recommend 20 years, with no chance for reelection to the same court, so they feel no need to pander to politicians to keep their position. I am interested in other solutions, though, and wonder if there might be better ones.
April 14, 2016 at 2:38 am #5877
One other solution perhaps would be to have reoccurring evaluations, either meeting with a board or another vote to determine if the aging justices and appointed members are still reflecting the best interests at the current time. I would not recommend setting an arbitrary term because sometimes experience is invaluable. If one justice can be evaluated as the best for the job I see no reason why they should be forced out if they’re 100, especially if our health spans increase as Bess projects and the justice is no longer crippled with age (in terms of judgement). It is also interesting to consider that this “problem” may not seem as bad as we may initially think. Is it not possible that the expanding life span will also impact our notion of an era? If we live 160 years perhaps “one’s time” as we so often hear today will actually be an undefined period throughout their lives as they live through the same major issues as the younger population.
April 15, 2016 at 4:13 am #5900
btb, This is perhaps a nitpick of your argument, but I don’t think that the ideas of older judges will become “antiquated”. In order for a concept to become outdated, it must no longer be sufficiently represented by the people around it, but if everyone is living to older ages, the old ideas among the general population will still be represented by the judge to the same extent that they are now. In a morbid sense, social change is largely the result of people with different ideas leaving the world and being replaced with a new generation that had a different set of common environmental factors and derived values. Assuming that people will continue to instinctively fight against ideas radically different from their own, change will become a much slower process than it is today.
April 15, 2016 at 5:38 am #5907
I feel this idea touched on when discussing life appointments can be expanded beyond the realm of just courts into specific careers and jobs. As populations age and healthspan increases, people will undoubtedly work until they are older, and rejuvenation treatments will keep them functioning as if they were younger. Companies would not need to bring in young, more efficient employees when the old employees are retaining the youth and health and already know all there is to know about the companies. In order to support a longer retirement, older populations will likely use this to their advantage and stay in the same companies for decades and decades. While this would be extremely beneficial to the older population and would allow them to work their way to the top of their respective companies, younger generations would be left to search for other jobs.
April 15, 2016 at 1:49 pm #5913
I would agree that with longer lifespans, the world might run a little more slowly; there wouldn’t be a problem with older judges because they would still reflect the norms of the older generation. Of course, the problem with life appointments is still a large issue even in the present day, with many arguing that it is fundamentally undemocratic, while supporters claim that it prevents judges from having to consider elections that would affect their choices instead of being neutral third parties. Brown vs. Board of Education is commonly cited, of course, because it is an example of a time when the Supreme Court promoted a decision that was deeply unpopular.
In that rein, perhaps the courts should be open to elections instead of appointments, since no other profession seems to have such strong job security as a role on the Supreme Court. Frankly, as life spans get longer and longer, it seems to me that such a change would be inevitable anyway, as people realized that the people currently on the Court would appear to be there forever. The same is true of other professions, of course, and no company would desire to fire anyone who had been working there for one hundred years, but it seems quite probable that by the time these things are an issue, the concepts of those professions and perhaps even courts in general might be antiquated in themselves.
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