Commentary: Judicial Term Limits Idea ‘Smells of Retaliation’

Florida_quarter,_reverse_side,_2004The Florida legislature has a documented history of trying to bash the courts for decisions it doesn’t like, and that explains the genesis of a new proposal for judicial term limits, columnist Paula Dockery writes at TBO.com.

A former Republican state legislator, Dockery says the proposal for limits on the terms of state Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges “smells of retaliation” given legislators’ unhappiness with the high court’s ruling on a redistricting plan drawn in the legislature (see Gavel Grab). “We lose good, experienced judges and justices arbitrarily” with such term limits, she says.

The proposal also is a bad idea because, she contends, it would jettison institutional knowledge, potentially make judgeships less attractive to attorneys, and fuel more appointments by the governor and a possibility of skewed judicial independence. She concludes, however, that voters would be likely to reject the proposal as they have other attempts in recent years to retaliate against the courts:

“Voters have consistently rejected legislative attempts to interfere with the judicial branch by respecting the tenets of separation of powers and checks and balances. It’s highly likely they will do so again.”