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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Perry: I remember that third thing now. I want to overhaul Congress and SCOTUS. Yeah, that's it.

The Times reports, as of a few moments ago, that Rick Perry is touting his big ideas about re-inventing government. For one thing, he apparently wants to turn Congress into something akin to the dysfunctional Florida legislature: ie., a part-time affair where representatives hold other full-time jobs. And prospective Article III judges shouldn't get so comfy in those chairs either. Perry wants to get rid of life tenure for federal judges and more-or-less enact the 18 year term limit that various liberals and conservative law professors have supported. The NYT quotes Perry:

"Too many federal judges rule with impunity from the bench,” he said, “and those who legislate from the bench should not be entitled to lifetime abuse of their judicial authority.” He proposed 18-year terms, staggered every two years, for new Supreme Court justices, and suggested similar limits on federal appellate and district court judges.

I doubt the folks who signed on to Paul Carrington's proposal did so for the same reasons that Perry's excited about tweaking judicial practice. Still, the fact that Perry is trying to overcome last week's Oops moment with some big ideas about institutional design is a good thing for the country: it's high time we had some "national conversations" about the constitutional imperfections we have. FWIW, I think Perry is normatively right to seek the kind of judicial reforms he wants (albeit for the wrong reasons). But I suspect the new model for Congress he proposes would be very unattractive, not to mention prone to corruption and amateurism, and thus unlikely to generate strong support from serious folks who study institutional design. As I recall, even Ethan's book on a new deliberative popular branch of government was supposed to be supplemental, not a replacement. Still, maybe I'm wrong and there's a larger anti-federalist contingent among the legal academics. Btw, the piece in the Times has a some good quotes from Paul Horwitz, and a bland one from me.

 

 

Posted by Dan Markel on November 15, 2011 at 02:03 PM in Constitutional thoughts, Current Affairs | Permalink

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