Could a state implement term limits for federal offices?

I’ve seen several Facebook posts calling for term limits for members of the US House and Senate. Given that there’s no restriction in the US Constitution, could a state take it upon itself to limit terms? Perhaps they could pass a law (or amend their own constitution) to say “No candidate will appear on a ballot for the same office more than twice” or whatever would work.

Would such a thing be constitutional?

Please remember, this is GQ. I’m not interested in a term limit debate.

The qualifications for federal offices are set by the Constitution. I think states only have control over Electors. They used to have control over Senators, that was changed by amendment.

U.S. Term Limits v Thornton (1995)

In short, no.

From the wiki:

Well alrighty then. It doesn’t get much more specific than that. Asked and answered. Thanks silenus.

It would require a US Constitution amendment.

Even if a state could, why *would *they? It would only put them at a disadvantage, compared to the other states, as the other states’ representatives gained more and more power.

But they did. Arkansas did so in 1992 (by popular initiative), else there would have been no court case.

They tried the same thing in Missouri. The courts shot the idea down before it even got on the ballot.

So what we need is a Constitutional Amendment. Something that limits Senators/Congresscritters to say 18 years total in Congress. If you can’t get your graft on in that length of time, get out of the way and give someone else a shot!

“I want either less corruption, or more opportunity to participate in it.”
Ashleigh Brilliant (quoting from memory)

Certainly, but that doesn’t explain why.

Because voters determined that other considerations were more important to them than the benefits to Arkansas of having members of Congress in senior leadership positions. There was a widespread and even bipartisan anti-incumbent feeling in the early 1990’s. Members especially in the House of Representatives had very high reelection rates, and the Congressional Post Office scandal and House banking scandal had fueled a perception of members of Congress as arrogant, corrupt, and out of touch.

If the Supreme Court had approved state-imposed term limits, Arkansas certainly wouldn’t have been the only state enacting them. Voters in I believe eight other states did so in 1994, just before the Supreme Court ruled, and there were more coming. If enough states had enacted term limits, members from those states would have been able to change leadership rules and elections to deemphasize seniority.

I don’t think that’s necessary. If the electorate doesn’t want someone to serve too long, they are free to vote for someone else. But the seniority system in place rewards those who have been in office for a long time. If term limits were put in place, something would be needed to replace it. Perhaps giving the most senior positions to those who were elected by the highest margins? Although that would reward gerrymandered districts.

I’m not sure that’s true. It was always my belief - and I am far from an expert - that Congress could limit terms by simple law signed by the President.

I don’t believe for a minute they would do that. But I believe they could.

It’s vanishingly unlikely that the Supreme Court would approve such a law. The majority in USTL v. Thornton reviewed the earlier case of Powell v. McCormack, which concerned the power of the House of Representatives alone to add qualifications for Congressional service, and wrote:

Even the four dissenting justices in USTL v. Thornton wrote that

They found however that the states could do so on Tenth Amendment grounds.

Note that having a Congress-critter with a ton of seniority doesn’t mean the same as it used to. Pleasing the folks back home with pork barrel projects is a shadow of its former self. The key to winning elections is campaign money. Period. With money you buy votes. Money comes from wealthy people and corporations. And they don’t care if you are in your first term or 20th term. As long as you vote for them, they give you money. If you vote against them, they’ll finance the campaign of your replacement.

Look at Tom Foley. 30 year incumbent. Speaker of the House. Lost re-election in 1994. The “wedge issue” of the campaign: his opposition to term limits!

Fun fact, Kennedy was the majority in this 5-4 judgement. The man who was originally nominated, Bork, filed an amicus curie petition in support of term limits.

Other cases where Kennedy was in the 5-4 majority where Bork probably would not have been include DC v Heller and US v Lopez.