Term limits

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Term limits refers to statutory or constitutional limits on the number of terms a politician can serve in a given office. A term limit places a restriction on the number of years that a government official may serve. For example, the President of the United States is limited by the Twenty-Second Amendment to two terms. There are no terms limits for representatives and senators, per U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton in 1995.

Fifteen states have term limits: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Some other states have partial term limits: Texas allows cities and school districts to limit terms, but counties and state offices do not have them.

Those who support term limits say that politicians who spend too much time in office lose touch with the interests of the voters, and become overly influenced by special interests. They argue that the Founders intended for government officials to get elected from the public, serve from a short period of time, and then go back to their normal lives, and that the idea of professional politicians is un-American and elitist. Term limits would also take away the overwhelming dominance incumbents typically have in congressional elections.

Those who oppose term limits say they impair the right of the people to vote. If a government official is doing a good job, the people should be able to elect him again and again. They may also say that it is not what the Founders intended as they are not in the Constitution. Further, they say that politics is a job like every other job, and that, like in any other job, experienced politicians know better how to get laws passed and get things done effectively. Another argument against term limits is that they could create a lame duck effect, where politicians on their last term may feel less inclined to make popular decisions.

A movement to enact term limits on U.S. and state legislative bodies was popular during the 1990s and inspired a number of ballot initiatives.[1] These efforts were stopped by the aforementioned U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton, where the Supreme Court held terms limits violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the United States Constitution.


  1. U.S Government and Politics