A 1995 Supreme Court decision (U.S. Term Limits v Thornton) declared that states could not “individually” impose term limits on their own federal delegation through state statute. However, they may collectively pass a term limits amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Article V of the Constitution allows either 34 states at convention or the both chambers of Congress to propose constitutional amendments. 38 states must ratify the proposal in order for it to be enshrined as law.
No. U.S. Senators serve 6-year terms and U.S. Representatives serve 2-year terms but are eligible for re-election indefinitely as long as they continue to meet the qualifications for office as stated in the U.S. Constitution.
It would be great if we could just vote the incumbent out. The reality is that congressional members have an insurmountable advantage of power and money that virtually guarantees a lifetime of re-elections.
With term limits on Congress, more seats could be filled with experienced state and local legislators as well as citizens from within the communities represented with real-world experience.
Lobbyists oppose term limits because they hate losing their investment in lawmakers. Career politicians, not term limits, have produced the world’s biggest bureaucracy in DC.
Term limits level the “seniority” playing field so that the balance of power is more equal to all states. Leadership positions will be based on merit instead political favors and corruption. In addition, Congress becomes a more attractive career path since climbing into leadership positions and getting a seat on committees will not be based on years of tenure.
Yes. The President may only be elected to serve two four-year terms. However, under the twenty-second amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a president may serve up to ten years if he or she completes the remaining two years of a term of a sitting President. This is a lifetime limit which does not reset once a President is out of office.
The 22nd Amendment states that “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once.” The twenty-second amendment was ratified in 1951 following the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) who died three months into his fourth term as President.
Yes. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected four times. However, he died three months into his fourth term from a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1945. This prompted Congress to instill term limits on the office of President via the 22nd amendment which was ratified in 1951.
As of April 2020, fifteen states have term limits. They are: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.
Each state sets its own term limits for governor. Currently, 14 of the 50 states do not have any term limits on governor. The rest have some sort of term limits. A majority of governors may serve two consecutive four-year terms. Other gubernatorial terms limits may include a lifetime limit or some minimum sitting out period before an incumbent is eligible for reelection.
There are thirty-six states with term limits on the governor. They are:
|Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia||2 consecutive 4-year terms|
|Indiana, Wyoming, Oregon||2 consecutive 4-year terms, 1 term pause|
|Montana||2 consecutive 4-year terms, 2 term pause|
|Arkansas, California, Delaware, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma||2 four-year terms a lifetime|
|Virginia||1 four-year term|
|Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin||no term limits (NH and VT have unlimited 2 year terms, the remainder have unlimited 4 year terms)|
President Donald Trump campaigned in support of term limits in an effort to “Drain the Swamp.” In April of 2018, he met with freshman Congress members who support term limits. Trump tweeted that he fully endorsed their efforts as part of his 5 point ethics plan. Watch his campaign endorsement here:
On multiple occasions, former President Obama expressed his support for term limits on Congress. “We want to see new voices and new ideas emerge. That’s why term limits are a really useful thing.” See for yourself in videos here:
Article V of the U.S. Constitution is the method by which revisions may be made to our governing document.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
The Founders recognized that the Constitution may have flaws and would have to adapt as the country grew. As a matter of fact, George Mason refused to sign off on the Constitution because it did not include a “declaration of rights.” The first 10 amendments, now known as the “Bill of Rights,” as well as the 27 amendments that followed, were all proposed by Congress through Article V.
James Madison and Alexander Hamilton wrote about the beauty of Article V, stating it made it difficult but not too difficult, to propose corrections to the Constitution.
Madison, Hamilton, and Mason felt strongly that both the federal government and the state legislatures should have equal power to propose amendments, therefore, the “conventions of states” option was important for them to include.
Per Article V of the Constitution, 34 state legislatures must pass resolutions applying for the convention on the subject of congressional term limits. Once that number is reached, the applications are delivered to Congress and Congress is mandated to call the convention.
Term limits on Congress will be constitutional once added to the Constitution. SCOTUS ruled that qualifications for Congress are defined in the Constitution. States may propose amendments through a convention. Therefore, yes, states have the ability to term limits Congress.
No. The amendment-by-convention route was added to the Constitution because the framers believed Congress played too powerful a role in the amendment process. So, Congress does not have discretion to stop or modify the convention agenda after 34 states have applied for an amendment on the same subject.
If the state applications fail to cover the same subject, Congress also lacks the discretion to call a convention in spite of this hurdle. That’s why it’s important for each state to pass the same language, with a small degree of freedom for different drafting styles.
States are free to shape and enact their own laws governing delegate selection. Historically, the method most oft-used for various interstate conventions has been election by legislature.
At the Convention, delegates from each state will propose and discuss congressional term limits amendments before taking an up or down vote. As a default, each state delegation — regardless of delegate number — is counted as one vote.
Absolutely not. The Convention is limited only to proposing an amendment that would impose term limits on members of Congress. The state applications prohibit all parties from proposing or ratifying anything that deviates from the subject at hand.
The convention may only propose amendments. Commissioners sent by state legislatures must remain within the scope of the application submitted to Congress by 2/3 of the states. Per Article V, to become part of the Constitution, 38 states must ratify the amendment, a fairly high bar protecting our governing document. A convention is just another way to propose amendments. Congress itself has asserted this power for thousands of proposals but only 27 have been ratified thus far.
Congress must designate either state legislatures or state conventions to ratify proposed amendments. If the latter is chosen, most states will hold elections to determine delegates to its ratifying convention.
Article V was penned by our framers specifically to allow the states to bypass Congress and amend the Constitution without the permission of the federal legislative branch.
The states that have passed a term limits only resolution are Florida, Alabama, and Missouri. Twelve states have passed a resolution that includes term limits as part of a limited government amendment. Because 34 states must apply with the same language, it is far easier to pass a resolution devoted to a single topic. We are fighting to aggregate multiple term limits applications to count toward the 34 states required to trigger the convention as well as count generic applications towards our term limits convention initiative.
It is easier to garner support to pass the resolution in the 34 states required if the language of the amendment is up to the commissioners at the Article V convention. We leave the discussion up to them but need to get to the discussion first. We will recommend two six-year terms in the Senate and three two-year terms in the House.
Congress will probably never impose term limits on itself. Resolutions have been made in both the House and the Senate that essentially die of inertia. Fortunately, through Article V of the U.S. Constitution amendments aren’t only proposed by Congress. The states have the power to bypass the federal legislature by calling for an amendment proposal convention specific to term limits. Short of an imminent convention call and a desperate attempt to control the terms of the limitations, we do not expect turkeys to vote for Thanksgiving. 😉
“I pledge that as a member of Congress I will co-sponsor and vote for the U.S. Term Limits amendment of three (3) House terms and two (2) Senate terms and no longer limit.”
“I pledge that as a member of the state legislature, I will support and vote for the resolution applying for an Article V convention for the limited purpose of enacting term limits on Congress.”
No. In our decades of experience advocating for term limits, we are steadfast in our commitment to the number of terms stated in the pledge and cannot customize pledges to individual candidates.
It is possible to create an office specific pledge providing the verbiage matches the spirit of the Article V pledge for state lawmakers. We cannot make adjustments for length of terms or years of service.
No. Self limits are not required and are actually not encouraged. Our limits are specific to all members of a governing body and not individuals.