Can a state impose term limits on its representatives?

Its U.S. representatives, that is. Suppose that a state (Missouri, say) decides it wants to impose congressional term limits and passes a law which reads:

No person who has served six or more terms in the United States House of Representatives shall be eligible to be elected to represent Missouri in the United States House of Representatives.

Would this law be constitutional, or not?

I suspect not. The qualifications to be elected to the H of R are given in the Constitution of the U.S., and I don’t think a state can add to them.

I had thought I remembered Tom Foley (D-WA) losing his job as Speaker of the House because Washington passed a term-limits initiative. But according to Wiki, Foley challenged the constitutionality of the initiative and won; he lost the next election when his opponent used the issue against him.

So it looks like that federal court decision says “no”.

Wouldn’t it be possible to argue that the Constitution states only negative, no positive, qualifications? In Article I Section 2 it says:

One could say that this passage only stipulates criteria which someone must not meet in order to qualify as a Congressperson (i.e., being younger than 25, having been a citizen for less than seven years, being an inhabitant of another state). It does not, according to its wording, say that each person who meets none of these criteria is eligible. On that basis, it should at least be tenable to argue that states could add further requirements, such as not having served more than a given number of previous terms (as long as that requirement is not in violation of other constitutional provisions such as equal protection, of course).

Obviously it’s not at all certain if the Supreme Court would buy that line of argument, but it could at least be made as long as it hasn’t been tested judicially.

Edit: Hadn’t read Tierce’s post before writing. So apparently the question has been answered judicially.

This should be of interest, U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton held that state-imposed term limits were unconstitutional. (The broader Wikipedia article notes that the Court carefully distinguished state laws from Congressional statutes, which were not addressed in the decision (though the reasoning of Justice Stevens’s majority decision suggests they too would be unconstitutional). Fiften states impose term limits on their legislatures, four state high courts ruled term limits to be in violation of state constitutions, and two legilsatures repealed term limit statutes (scroll down from last link). 36 states impose term limits on their governors, many of them making it not absolute but consecutive – e.g., a governor might be limited to two consecutive terms, but having been out of office for a term or two he becomes again eligible to run.

On the state legislature term limits note, Michigan passed some via constitutional amendment in 1992, and some say we are suffering because of it. You get three two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate. Thus, no one in the House has more than 4 years experience at the beginning of the session, and by the time you have significant experience in the legislature you can’t run any more. The state legislature hasn’t even considered repealing it, possibly because they assume it would never pass the majority state-wide approval vote.

In perusing the state constitution, I noticed it was amended at the same time as the above to state that no person elected in Michigan shall serve more than 3 US House terms every 12 years or more than 2 Senate terms every 24 years, and “The People of Michigan declare […] that their intention is that federal officials elected from Michigan will continue voluntarily to observe the wishes of the people as stated in this section, in the event any provision of this section is held invalid.”

Additionally, having lived in Michigan practically all my life, I was rather surprised that it is one of only 11 full-time state legislatures. I suppose that it’s in the top 10 in population and thus it makes a bit of sense, but I sorta assumed without even thinking about it that all state legislatures were full-time jobs.

Some state legislatures have very strict limits as to how many days per year they can meet. I think a few states have as few as 90 days.

Here in NC the governor is limited to 2 terms in a row but not overall. Jim Hunt served 4 terms - 76 to 84 and 92 to 2000.