U.S. TERM LIMITS v. THORNTON

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
93-1456
Petitioner 
U.S. Term Limits
Respondent 
Ray Thornton
Consolidation 
No. 93-1828
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondent Hill in both cases)
(Pro se, argued the cause for petitioner in Bryant v. Hill)
(Argued the cause for U.S. Term Limits, Inc)
(Argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance)
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Facts of the Case 

On November 3, 1992, Arkansas voters adopted Amendment 73 to their State Constitution. The "Term Limitation Amendment," in addition to limiting terms of elected officials within the Arkansas state government, also provided that any person who served three or more terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Arkansas would be ineligible for re-election as a US Representative from Arkansas. Similarly, the Amendment provided that any person who served two or more terms as a member of the United States Senate from Arkansas would be ineligible for re-election as a US Senator from Arkansas.

Question 

Can states alter those qualifications for the U.S. Congress that are specifically enumerated in the Constitution?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Thornton, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 1: Composition of the House of Representatives

No. The Constitution prohibits States from adopting Congressional qualifications in addition to those enumerated in the Constitution. A state congressional term limits amendment is unconstitutional if it has the likely effect of handicapping a class of candidates and "has the sole purpose of creating additional qualifications indirectly." Furthermore, "...allowing individual States to craft their own congressional qualifications would erode the structure designed by the Framers to form a 'more perfect Union.'"

Cite this Page
U.S. TERM LIMITS v. THORNTON. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 19 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1994/1994_93_1456>.
U.S. TERM LIMITS v. THORNTON, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1994/1994_93_1456 (last visited December 19, 2014).
"U.S. TERM LIMITS v. THORNTON," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 19, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1994/1994_93_1456.