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The Article V Path

Can Americans term-limit Congress?

Twenty-three states had passed term limits on their congressional delegations by 1995 — many while simultaneously term-limiting state lawmakers.

Voters in most other states lack statewide initiative rights. But if the term limits passed by the 23 had been left alone, the pressure would have been enormous to bring term limits to the whole Congress.

Alas, in its 1995 Thornton decision, the Supreme Court ruled, five to four, that this method of building a more perfect union is constitutionally imperfect.

U.S. Term Limits currently backs an amendment that would originate in Congress to limit House members to three two-year terms and senators to two six-year terms. Just in case congressmen don’t get around to passing such an amendment, though, USTL has also endorsed the Article V path to term limits being promoted by Citizens for Self-Governance.

Article V of the Constitution authorizes states to call a constitutional convention if two thirds of them apply. In 2014, Georgia, Alaska and Florida did formally apply for a convention to consider term limits and other reforms. Lawmakers in many other states advocate similar applications. As with congressionally proposed amendments, any amendment offered by the states’ convention would then have to be ratified by three fourths of the states.

Is Article V a long shot? Yes. Every means of imposing congressional term limits has proven to be a long shot.

When we get there, it will be because one of the long shots paid off.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

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  1. Not So Free says:

    I think an Article V convention would open up a huge can of worms and would make things worse than they already are.

    There is no way to be sure that other items not in the original attempt would not be discussed, including the first, second, and fifth amendments.

    This is not a good idea at the present time.

    • Erne Lewis says:

      I fear a constitutional convention.will be organized by the same politicians who now control the election laws to keep themselves in office. The constitutional convention could make matters worse but our present course does not offer hope either. Term limits would help but if incumbents can run for the same office they presently hold they will not be citizen legislators and they will continue controlling our lives as if they own us.

      • Werner says:

        I absolutely agree. It would be giving them the car keys and credit cards. Just imagine the nonsense they could cause if they have free rein to “fix” the Constitution. Say good-bye to Bill of Rights to start. 

        Term limits are NOT a panacea. So 23 states have enacted term limits; how have THEY been doing? I know in CA it’s been a disaster.   Absolutely no accountability in their last term. They know they never EVER have to face those unwashed voters again. They’re setting themselves up for a cushy landing for when they’re out. And they’re doing it with taxpayer money. Think ANY of them is going back to their lowly job they had before being elected? Heck no! They’ve sidled up to some special interest group to give them some goodies in return for nice “consulting” job or something. AND FULLY 1/3 OF THE ENTIRE LEGISLATURE IS IN THAT POSITION ALL THE TIME!!

    • Pat says:

      So what if other issues are brought up? Any amendment which comes out of the convention still needs to be ratified by three fourths of the states before it becomes law.

      • Werner says:

        Good point. Still makes me nervous though as financially beholden the states are to the central gov’t. 

      • f n scott says:

        Keep in mind; the States petition but Congress controls; Congress also controls how the ratification process is done.

        • Werner says:

          Don’t forget that the states happily gave up their greatest power in Washington when they ok’d direct election of senators. And they are fully dependent on fed handouts. 

  2. Brian Wright says:

    Agreed with the term limits concept, but

    Nullification is better course of action now. ConCon will be at best a waste of libertarians’ time, and at worst the leftists and progressives will dominate, just as they already dominate the control agenda via the media. Here are several good arguments against ConCon from Shane Trejo:


  3. Rick Scott says:

    My reading of Article V says that Congress shall call for a convention. Notice that the States are not given that authority. It does not say when the convention shall be called; nor does it say who should attend. What the call would do is give Congress to power to revise the Constitution to suit which ever party is in power. Really bad idea.

  4. kyle says:

    I agree bout with one exception. Politics seems to attract the worst of the worst sort of people. Most have conquered the business world and believe, perhaps as a result of their success, that they have all the best answers to all of life’s questions, so they seek political power to make that happen. Even if they have the best of intentions when starting out, the system will eventually corrupt them as soon as they realize they are the masters and we their servants.

    So, the Only way to preclude this is simple: ONE term for everybody. Six years in congress and twelve in the senate, period. The same should apply to state and local political offices. And, to add an insurance policy to this, once someone serves his single term, at any level of government, he or she can NEVER HOLD PUBLIC OFFICE AGAIN, EVEN AS A BUREAUCRAT. 

    Speaking of bureaucrats, they should be elected, not hired or appointed, and the same limited term should apply to them to prevent them from becoming to powerful as a result of entrenchment.

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