U. S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995)

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U. S. TERM LIMITS, INC., et al. v. THORNTON et al.

certiorari to the supreme court of arkansas

No. 93-1456. Argued November 29, 1994—Decided May 22, 1995*

Respondent Hill filed this suit in Arkansas state court challenging the constitutionality of 3 of Amendment 73 to the Arkansas Constitution, which prohibits the name of an otherwise-eligible candidate for Congress from appearing on the general election ballot if that candidate has already served three terms in the House of Representatives or two terms in the Senate. The trial court held that 3 violated Article I of the Federal Constitution, and the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed. A plurality of the latter court concluded that the States have no authority "to change, add to, or diminish" the age, citizenship, and residency requirements for congressional service enumerated in the Qualifications Clauses, U. S. Const., Art. I, 2, cl. 2, and Art. I, 3, cl. 3, and rejected the argument that Amendment 73 is constitutional because it is formulated as a ballot access restriction rather than an outright disqualification of congressional incumbents.

Held: Section 3 of Amendment 73 to the Arkansas Constitution violates the Federal Constitution. Pp. 787-838. (a) The power granted to each House of Congress to judge the "Qualifications of its own Members," Art. I, 5, cl. 1, does not include the power to alter or add to the qualifications set forth in the Constitution's text. Powell v. McCormack, 395 U. S. 486, 540. After examining Powell's analysis of the Qualifications Clauses' history and text, id., at 518-548, and its articulation of the "basic principles of our democratic system," id., at 548, this Court reaffirms that the constitutional qualifications for congressional service are "fixed," at least in the sense that they may not be supplemented by Congress. Pp. 787-798. (b) So too, the Constitution prohibits States from imposing congressional qualifications additional to those specifically enumerated in its text. Petitioners' argument that States possess control over qualifications as part of the original powers reserved to them by the Tenth Amendment is rejected for two reasons. First, the power to add qualifications is not within the States' pre-Tenth Amendment "original powers," but is a new right arising from the Constitution itself, and thus is

*Together with No. 93-1828, Bryant, Attorney General of Arkansas v. Hill et al., also on certiorari to the same court.


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