U. S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779, 14 (1995)

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Opinion of the Court

qualifications of the persons who may choose or be chosen, as has been remarked upon other occasions, are defined and fixed in the Constitution, and are unalterable by the legislature.' " 395 U. S., at 539, quoting The Federalist No. 60, p. 371 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961) (emphasis added) (hereinafter The Federalist).

We thus attached special significance to "Hamilton's express reliance on the immutability of the qualifications set forth in the Constitution." 395 U. S., at 540. Moreover, we reviewed the debates at the state conventions and found that they "also demonstrate the Framers' understanding that the qualifications for members of Congress had been fixed in the Constitution." Ibid.; see, e. g., id., at 541, citing 3 Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution 8 (J. Elliot ed. 1863) (hereinafter Elliot's Debates) (Wilson Carey Nicholas, Virginia).8

The exercise by Congress of its power to judge the qualifications of its Members further confirmed this understanding. We concluded that, during the first 100 years of its existence, "Congress strictly limited its power to judge the qualifications of its members to those enumerated in the Constitution." 395 U. S., at 542.

As this elaborate summary reveals, our historical analysis in Powell was both detailed and persuasive. We thus conclude now, as we did in Powell, that history shows that, with

8 Our examination of the history also caused us to reject the argument that the negative phrasing of the Clauses indicated that the Framers did not limit the power of the House to impose additional qualifications for membership. Id., at 537 (noting that the Committee of Style, which edited the Qualifications Clauses to incorporate "their present negative form," had " 'no authority from the Convention to make alterations of substance in the Constitution as voted by the Convention, nor did it purport to do so' "); id., at 539, quoting C. Warren, The Making of the Constitution 422, n. 1 (1947) (hereinafter Warren); see also 2 Farrand 553 (the Committee of Style was appointed "to revise the stile and arrange the articles which had been agreed to").

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