Jun 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

First Look: Ro Khanna to push Biden to back SCOTUS term limits

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) speaks at an “End Fossil Fuel” rally near the U.S. Capitol on June 29, 2021 in Washington, DC
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) speaks at a rally near the U.S. Capitol on June 29, 2021. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) will call on President Biden to support term limits for Supreme Court justices during a Saturday speech to the Nevada State Democratic Party Convention, Khanna tells Axios.

Why it matters: The prominent progressive's response to the court's 5-4 ruling overturning Roe v. Wade is expected to be followed by more calls from Democratic elected officials and activists for reforms to the court. Expanding the number of justices or restricting the court’s jurisdiction are other proposals under discussion.

What we're watching: "Today’s majority is not comprised of impartial justices," Khanna will tell the gathering in Reno, according to prepared remarks reviewed by Axios. "They are far-right activist justices."

  • "Nine unelected, elite lawyers with fancy degrees do not have the final word on interpreting the Constitution. ... The American people get to decide what the Constitution means. In a democracy, we the people get to decide what are fundamental rights and freedoms."

The details: Khanna last year reintroduced a bill that would establish 18-year term limits on Supreme Court justices approved after his bill’s passage. Co-sponsors include Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

The big picture: President Biden’s Supreme Court commission has shown strong interest in imposing terms limits on justices, though President Biden has not weighed in after the final report was released.

  • “Among the world’s democracies, at least 27 have term limits for their constitutional courts. And those that do not have term limits, such as the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, typically impose age limits," the commission wrote in discussion materials.

How we got here: The debate over whether to seek fundamental changes to the Supreme Court picked up when Republicans blocked former President Obama’s nominee in 2016 and gained momentum after former President Trump named three justices to the court — all of whom ruled Friday in favor of ending Roe.

Go deeper