Prior to independence, several colonies had already experimented with term limits. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut of , for example, prohibited the colonial governor from serving consecutive terms, setting terms at one year's length, and holding "that no person be chosen Governor above once in two years. Pennsylvania's plural executive was composed of twelve citizens elected for the term of three years, followed by a mandatory vacation of four years.
The Articles of Confederation , adopted in , established term limits for the delegates to the Continental Congress , mandating in Article V that "no person shall be capable of being a delegate for more than three years in any term of six years.
On October 2, , the Continental Congress appointed a committee of thirteen to examine forms of government for the impending union of the states. Among the proposals was that from the State of Virginia , written by Thomas Jefferson , urging a limitation of tenure, "to prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office the members of the Continental Congress".
The fifth Article stated that "no person shall be capable of being a delegate [to the continental congress] for more than three years in any term of six years". In contrast to the Articles of Confederation, the federal constitution convention at Philadelphia omitted mandatory term limits from the second national frame of government, i. Constitution of to the present. At the convention,  some delegates spoke passionately against term limits such as Rufus King , who said "that he who has proved himself to be most fit for an Office, ought not to be excluded by the constitution from holding it.
George Washington set the informal precedent for a two-term limit for the Presidency—a tradition that prevailed until Franklin Roosevelt 's presidency, after which the 22nd Amendment to the U. Constitution was ratified in formally establishing in law the two-term limit. However, when the states ratified the Constitution —88 , several leading statesmen regarded the lack of mandatory limits to tenure as a dangerous defect, especially, they thought, as regards the presidency and the Senate.
Richard Henry Lee viewed the absence of legal limits to tenure, together with certain other features of the Constitution, as "most highly and dangerously oligarchic". The historian Mercy Otis Warren , warned that "there is no provision for a rotation, nor anything to prevent the perpetuity of office in the same hands for life; which by a little well-timed bribery, will probably be done".
The fact that "perpetuity in office" was not approached until the 20th century is due in part to the influence of rotation in office as a popular 19th-century concept. According to Young, the tendency to look with mistrust upon political power was so ingrained into American culture that even the officeholders themselves perceived their occupations in a disparaging light.
Beginning about the s, Jacksonian democracy introduced a less idealistic twist to the practice of limiting terms. Rotation in office came to mean taking turns in the distribution of political prizes.
House of Representatives—the prizes—became a key element of payoffs to the party faithful. The leading lights in the local party machinery came to regard a nomination for the House as "salary" for political services rendered.
A new code of political ethics evolved, based on the proposition that "turnabout is fair play". In district nominating conventions local leaders could negotiate and enforce agreements to pass the nominations around among themselves.
Abraham Lincoln was elected to the United States House of Representatives in under such a bargain, and he returned home to Springfield after a single congressional term because, he wrote, "to enter myself as a competitor of another, or to authorize anyone so to enter me, is what my word and honor forbid".
During the Civil War , the Confederate States Constitution limited its president to a single six-year term. The practice of nomination rotation for the House of Representatives began to decline after the Civil War. It took a generation or so before the direct primary system, civil service reforms, and the ethic of professionalism worked to eliminate rotation in office as a common political practice. By the turn of the 20th century the era of incumbency was coming into full swing.
A total of 8 presidents served two full terms and declined a third and three presidents served one full term and refused a second. After World War II , however, an officeholder class had developed to the point that congressional tenure rivaled that of the U.
Supreme Court , where tenure is for life. The concept of homesteading brought about a popular movement known as the "term-limits movement". The elections of —94 saw the adoption of term limits for state legislatures in almost every state where citizens had the power of the initiative.
In addition, 23 states limited service in their delegation to Congress. As they pertain to Congress, these laws are no longer enforceable, however, as in , the U. Supreme Court overturned congressional term limits in U.
Thornton , ruling that state governments cannot limit the terms of members of the national government. Where rotation in the legislative branch has withstood court challenges, term limits continue to garner popular support.
As of , the advocacy group " U. Term Limits " found that in the 17 states where state legislators served in rotation, public support for term limits ranged from 60 to 78 percent. As of , term limits at the federal level are restricted to the executive branch and some agencies.
Judicial appointments at the federal level are made for life, and are not subject to election or to term limits. Congress remains since the Thornton decision of without electoral limits. The short-lived Confederate States of America adopted a six-year term for their president and vice-president and barred the president from seeking re-election.
That innovation was endorsed by many American politicians after the American Civil War , most notably by Rutherford B. Hayes in his inaugural address. Roosevelt president, — was the first and only U. He died in office a few months after starting his fourth term. This gave rise to a successful move in Congress to formalize the traditional two-term limit by amending the U.
As ratified in , the Twenty-Second Amendment provides that "no person shall be elected to the office of President more than twice". Reformers during the early s used the initiative and referendum to put congressional term limits on the ballot in 24 states. Voters in eight of these states approved the congressional term limits by an average electoral margin of two to one.
In May , the U. Supreme Court ruled 5—4 in U. Thornton , U. In the elections, part of the Republican platform included legislation for term limits in Congress. After winning the majority, a Republican congressman brought a constitutional amendment to the House floor that proposed limiting members of the Senate to two six-year terms and members of the House to six two-year terms.
Term Limits , the largest private organization pushing for congressional term limits. Defeated in Congress and overridden by the Supreme Court, the federal term limit uprising was brought to a halt. The term limits intended simultaneously to reform state legislatures as distinguished from the federal congressional delegations remain in force, however, in fifteen states. In Larry J. Sabato revived the debate over term limits by arguing in A More Perfect Constitution that the success and popularity of term limits at the state level suggests that they should be adopted at the federal level as well.
He specifically put forth the idea of congressional term limits and suggested a national constitutional convention be used to accomplish the amendment, since the Congress would be unlikely to propose and adopt any amendment that limits its own power.
Some state legislators have also expressed their opinions on term limits. It is confirmed that in the following five states—and there may be others—state lawmakers approved resolutions asking Congress to propose a federal constitutional amendment to limit the number of terms which members of Congress may serve:.
Legal scholars have discussed whether or not to impose term limits on the Supreme Court of the United States. Currently, Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life "during good behavior". A sentiment has developed, among certain scholars, that the Supreme Court may not be accountable in a way that is most in line with the spirit of checks and balances. Calebresi and James Lindgren, professors of law at Northwestern University, argued that, because vacancies in the court are occurring with less frequency and justices served on average, between and , for Many of the proposals center around a term limit for Justices that would be 18 years Larry Sabato, Professor of Political Science at University of Virginia, suggested between 15 and 18 years.
Calebresi, Lingren, and Carrington have also proposed that when justices have served out their proposed year term they should be able to sit on other Federal Courts until retirement, death, or removal. Some state lawmakers have officially expressed to Congress a desire for a federal constitutional amendment to limit terms of Supreme Court justices as well as of judges of federal courts below the Supreme Court level.
While there might be others, below are three known examples:. Term limits for state officials have existed since colonial times. The Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties of , and the colonial frame of government of the same year, both authored by William Penn , provided for triennial rotation of the provincial council —the upper house of the colonial legislature. At present, 36 states have term limits of various types for their governors.
To circumvent the term limit in Alabama incumbent governor George Wallace pushed through the nomination of his wife Lurleen , in the Democratic primary, which was, in those days, the real contest in Alabama. It was generally understood that Mrs. Wallace would only be a titular governor while her husband continued to hold the real power. She won the election, but only served 16 months before dying in As indicated above, in fifteen state legislatures the members serve in rotation, i.
In another six states, however, state legislatures have either overturned their own limits or state supreme courts have ruled such limits unconstitutional.
In the Idaho Legislature became the first legislature of its kind to repeal its own term limits, enacted by a public vote in , ostensibly because it applied to local officials along with the legislature.
Governors of 36 states and four territories are subject to various term limits, while the governors of 14 states, Puerto Rico , and the Mayor of Washington, D. Each state's gubernatorial term limits are prescribed by its state constitution , with the exception of Wyoming , whose limits are found in its statutes. Virgin Islands , and by statute in American Samoa. Unique in its restriction, Virginia prohibits its governors from succeeding themselves for a second term, although former governors are reeligible after four years out of office.
The governors of the following states and territories are limited to two consecutive terms, but are reeligible after four years out of office: Conversely, the Governors of Montana  and Wyoming  are restricted to two terms, limited to serving 8 out of any 16 years. Finally, the governors of the following states and territory are absolutely limited for life to two terms: The governors of New Hampshire and Vermont may serve unlimited two-year terms.
The governors or equivalent in the following states, district, and territory may serve unlimited four-year terms: The Governor of Utah was previously limited to serving three terms, but all term limit laws have since been repealed by the legislature. Federal judges have different terms in office. Article I judges ; such as those that sit on the United States bankruptcy courts , United States Tax Court , and United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces , and certain other federal courts and other forms of adjudicative bodies serve limited terms: The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces for 15 years, bankruptcy courts for However, the majority of the federal judiciary; Article III judges, such as those of the Supreme Court , courts of appeal , and federal district courts ; serve for life.
The terms of office for officials in state governments varies according to the provisions of state constitutions and state law. The term for state governors is four years in all states but Vermont and New Hampshire ; the Vermont and New Hampshire governors serve for two years.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported in January that among state legislatures :. Among territories of the United States:. Members of Council of the District of Columbia serve a four-year term. As a former British territory following the Westminster System , there are many similarities with the United Kingdom, although with some variations based on local customs, the federal system of government and the absentee monarch. Being a Commonwealth realm , Canada shares a monarch with the United Kingdom and 14 other countries, who serves as head of state of all 16 realms until their death or abdication.
Similarly, the Lieutenant Governors , who represent the monarch at the provincial level, are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister usually also with consultation of the relevant provincial premier , and generally also serve 5 year terms by convention. The territories have Commissioners , who are not representatives of the monarch, but are instead appointed by and represent the Governor-in-Council i.
They may resign before the end of a Parliament or be elected in by-elections during the middle of a Parliament. Under the Constitution Act, , a Parliament may last for a maximum of 5 years from the most recent election before expiring, although all Parliaments to date have been dissolved before they could expire.
Bill C, introduced in the 39th Parliament , provided for fixed election dates every 4 years on the third Monday in October, beginning in However, the Prime Minister may still advise the Governor General to dissolve Parliament at any time. As in the United Kingdom, the cabinet and head of government are indirectly elected based on the composition of the House of Commons, they are not technically affected by the terms of legislators or Parliaments.
In practice however, the terms of government office holders are affected by changes in the House of Commons, and those who serve for multiple consecutive Parliaments are generally considered to have served a single term. The term of a government generally ends when it is defeated on a confidence matter or the governing party fails to gain enough seats in a general election. Senators are appointed to the Canadian Senate to represent a province by the Governor General of Canada on the advice of the Prime Minister, and serve until the mandatory retirement age of Senators appointed before the passage of the British North America Act, served for life.
Senators may also resign from office or be expelled from the Senate. Provincial legislatures and the legislature of the Yukon function very similarly to the federal House of Commons. The legislatures of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut operate using a consensus model, but are similar otherwise.
The premiers and their cabinets are selected in the same way as in the House of Commons, and like at the federal level, the term of a provincial government can be ended by defeat in a general election or the loss of the legislature's confidence.
All provincial legislatures except that of Nova Scotia have fixed-term election legislation in place, as does the legislature of the Northwest Territories. Premiers may also advise Lieutenant Governors to dissolve legislatures at any time before the prescribed election date.
Numbers in years unless stated otherwise. Note that some countries where fixed-term elections are uncommon, the legislature is almost always dissolved earlier than its expiry date.
In cases where the head of government is a different person from the head of state, its term of office is identical to the chamber that elected it the legislature if it is unicameral, or most usually the lower house if it is bicameral , unless it doesn't survive a vote of no confidence.
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The term length for the U.S. House of Representatives is two years, with elections held every even year. The House has a representative for every congressional district in the United States. Each district represents about , people.
Term limits in the United States apply to many offices at both the federal and state level, prohibited the colonial governor from serving consecutive terms, setting terms at one year's length, Unlimited four-year terms House of Representatives: Unlimited two-year terms.
rows · A term of office is the length of time a person serves in a particular elected . History Flashcards for the Constitution. What is the length of a term of office for members of the U.S. House of Representatives? A 2 year term- Article 1. 2. How old do you have to be in order to be a member of the U.S. House of Representatives? What is the length of a term of office for the president of the United States? A 4 year.
The length of terms of state representatives in the 49 American lower chambers is either two years or four years.. Representatives in five states (Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi and North Dakota) have a four-year sinres.gqentatives in 44 states have a two-year term. In contrast, term lengths of state senators are generally . The United States House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the United States Congress. It is frequently referred to as the House. Length of Terms. Comments: House of Representatives vs Senate. Related Comparisons. Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton; Democrat vs Republican;.