Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III’s Oct. 18 op-ed opposing term limits for Supreme Court justices, “Supreme Court term limits wouldn’t solve anything,” sidestepped several concerns about the current regime of lifetime tenure. One is the ability of justices to time their resignations according to who occupies the White House. Another is partisan manipulation of the Senate confirmation process.

Though, as the judge pointed out, term limits would not eliminate politicized confirmation battles; they would prevent the egregious use of parliamentary procedure to subvert the confirmation process altogether. Judge Wilkinson also stated that lifetime tenure has come to be thought of as the ideal of judicial independence by “judges subject to bribery and intimidation in foreign countries.” That is not the case with the Federal Republic of Germany, whose Federal Constitutional Court was established in the postwar era with considerable American influence. That court has functioned well since its establishment with its judges serving 12-year terms, which may not extend beyond the mandatory retirement age of 68. The selection process for judges for that court is also structured to be bipartisan — something intended to avoid identification of judges with a particular political party.

Bradley ShingletonBethesda