Open to Merit of Every Description? An Historical Assessment of the Constitution's Qualifications Clauses
52 Pages Posted: 31 May 2006
In U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, the Supreme Court, by a split 5-4 decision, invalidated an Arkansas term limits provision because it effectively imposed a qualification for office and, according to the Court's reading of the historical and textual evidence,. . .neither Congress nor the States . . . possess the power to supplement the exclusive qualifications set forth in the text of the Constitution. The Court relied heavily on the historical assessment made previously by the court in Powell v. McCormack. This article reviews and assesses the historical evidence upon which the Powell Court relied by looking at the four principal debates in Congress over contested elections in which a state-imposed qualification was at issue, and concludes that the arguments in favor of the constitutionality of state-imposed term limits are stronger than those against.
Keywords: Term limits
JEL Classification: H10, H11, H77, K30, K40, N40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation