Letter to the Editor

Let's consider term limits

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Limiting congressional terms is vital to our survival as a nation.

Our Representatives and Senators do not listen to the public they claim to represent. We have a dysfunctional Congress. Where are character, integrity and virtue of our Representatives and Senators? When will they tell the truth?

Instead they have no character, integrity or virtue. They are busy listening to lobbyists, special interest groups such as businesses labor unions and environmentalists. Political dynasties come out because of the candidates listening to these groups. These groups support our elected officials financially and with personnel to run a campaign. If the candidate is successful, there is a feeling of obligation on their part to favor contributors' agendas.

Within Congress and other branches of government, there is the tendency if you support my district's ear mark, I'll support your district's ear mark.

How do we go about establishing term limits for Congress? There are two ways to amend the Constitution.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution spells out the processes by which amendments can be proposed and ratified.

It consists of two steps: proposal and ratification.

Step 1: Propose an Amendment - Either Congress or the States can propose an amendment to the Constitution. Both Houses of Congress must propose the amendment with a two-thirds vote. This is how all current amendments have been offered. Two-thirds of the State legislatures must call on Congress to hold a Constitutional Convention.

Step 2: Ratify an Amendment - Regardless of how the amendment is proposed, it must be ratified by the States. Three-fourths of the State legislatures must approve of the amendment proposed by Congress, or three-fourths of the states must approve the amendment via ratifying conventions. This method has only been used once, to repeal Prohibition (21st Amendment).

Is there a timeline for ratification? The U.S. Supreme Court has held that ratification must happen within "some reasonable time after the proposal." Since the 18th Amendment, Congress has set a term of seven years for ratification.

Only 33 amendments have received a two-thirds vote from both Houses of Congress. Of those, only 27 have been ratified by the States. Perhaps the most visible failure is the Equal Rights Amendment.

It is doubtful if the members of Congress will propose or vote for term limits.

Their desire for power and their greed ar too great.

It is also hard to envision the States accomplishing such a task.

It is too bad that Thomas Paine in his publication "Common Sense" did not think to suggest term limits.

The founding fathers of our constitution mistakenly believed that the elected Congressional members would limit their terms voluntarily.

The only way we the people will ever get our wish for term limits is to vote the bums out. Until then a 28th amendment will not come about. Probably not in the near future.

Jon Rute

Arnolds Park