Amendment needed for term limits


For several years, we have been advocating term limits for members of Congress. It has been the subject of debate for decades. Although there have been efforts to implement limits, they have all been unsuccessful.

There have been some positive moves in this direction. The most important one was passage of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1951 that limits the nation’s President to two terms. Also, a number of states have approved some degree of limitations on the number of terms for their legislators and governors. Currently there is a bill in the House proposing term limits, introduced by a Florida representative, but it has stalled.

The reason why nothing has been done is because it would take a Constitutional Amendment to institute term limits and doing so is quite difficult.

There are two ways to change the Constitution, both contained in Article 5 of that document.

First – Congress itself may propose an amendment. Using this method, a joint resolution would have to pass in both chambers by a two-thirds vote. Then it would require approval by three-fourths (38) of state legislatures or state conventions.

Second – the states can call a national constitutional convention by a two-thirds vote of their number. If an amendment is approved at the convention, it then must be approved by three-fourths of the state legislatures or state conventions.

None of the 27 current Amendments to the Constitution have been approved by use of the second method. The difficulty is underscored by the fact that there have been 11,000 proposed amendments, but only 27 made it, and 10 of them were implemented together shortly after the Constitution was ratified.

In light of the fact that all approved amendments were done via the congressional method, the chance that two-thirds of the House and Senate would vote to limit their terms is not a good bet. Several members have held their seats for more than 40 years. It isn’t likely that the veteran members would be willing to give up their power, standing and influence to approve such a measure.

Consequently, the only recourse is for the people to speak. Our nation is a government of the people, by the people and for the people, and it is time they voiced their opinion.


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