Those who drafted, enacted and ratified the Constitution of the United States clearly believed in gradation. Representatives to Congress serve two-year terms, the president four years and U.S. senators six years.

This inherent concept of re-evaluation and reconsideration spelled out in Article I and Article II of the Constitution seemed to run out of steam when it reached Article III. Article III, Section 1, states, in part, “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour …,” essentially a lifetime appointment in most cases.

Would it not have been more consistent and beneficial to the people of the United States if the gradation in Articles I and II had been continued on into Article III? For example, in today’s terms, if judges of the U.S. District Courts and the Courts of Appeal and justices of the Supreme Court were appointed and confirmed by the Senate for terms of, say, eight years, 10 years and 12 years, respectively? This could be eight years, 12 years and 16 years, or whatever terms the times may dictate. Thereafter, judges and justices could resign, retire or request that the Senate reconsider, reassess and reconfirm their appointments for like terms.

This would, of course, require a constitutional amendment, and as set forth in Article V, would require a two-thirds vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, plus ratification by three-fourths of the states. Should we hold our breath?

Norman Rapkin

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