On Wednesday and Thursday, NBC hosted the first presidential debate for candidates competing for the democratic nomination. The candidates did little to hide their extremist positions on a wide array of issues including healthcare, the environment, gun control, immigration, and abortion.
While judicial nominations and the courts did not take up a large portion of the debate time overall, Senator Sanders’ remarks on the second night about his ideas for the courts particularly stood out. When asked about what he would do if Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, Senator Sanders replied with an alarming suggestion:
We got a terrible 5-4 majority conservative court right now. But I do believe that constitutionally we have the power to rotate judges to other courts. And that brings in new blood into the Supreme Court and a majority, I hope, that will understand that a woman has the right to control her own body and the corporations cannot run the United States of America.
Sanders further noted that he would not appoint judicial nominees who did not support Roe v. Wade which echoed the sentiment of former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro on the first night of the debates.
Senator Sanders' judge rotation proposal has no basis in the Constitution. As Joseph Curl explained:
[W]e've read the Constitution, and we can't find a word about being able to rotate the players like they do in a volleyball game. The Constitution does say that Supreme Court justices can hold their seats on the court “during good behavior,” which most have interpreted to mean for life, if they so choose.
Thursday's debate was not the first time that Sanders has proposed rotating judges. In April, Sanders argued: "What may make sense is, if not term limits, then rotating judges to the appeals court as well . . . Letting them get out of the Supreme Court and bringing in new blood." Sanders also went on the record with the idea earlier this month in an interview with the New York Times as an alternative to the court packing proposals that many of the other candidates support.
Senator Sanders’ unconstitutional judge rotation proposal is dangerous to the separation of powers and must be stopped.