United States Term Limits v. Thornton

514 U.S. 779, 115 S. Ct. 1842 (1995)



The power to add qualifications is not within the original powers of the states, and thus is not reserved to the states by the U.S. Const. amend. X. Even if states possessed some original power in this area, the framers intended the Constitution to be the exclusive source of qualifications for members of Congress, and that the framers thereby divested states of any power to add qualifications. 


The people of Arkansas voted to amend the state constitution to impose term limits upon the individuals it elected to Congress. Ark. Const. amend. LXXIII limited persons seeking office in the House of Representatives to three terms and in the Senate to two terms. Respondent challenged the amendment and the trial court held that it was unconstitutional. The state supreme court upheld that ruling stating that states have no authority to change, add to, diminish the requirements of the Qualifications Clauses, U.S. Const. Art. I, § 2, Art. I, § 3, cl. 7. 


Was the amendment unconstitutional?




The US Supreme Court upheld the lower court rulings because any changes with respect to term limits must be made, not by legislation, but rather through the amendment procedures set forth in the U.S. Constitution.

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