U. S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779, 28 (1995)

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Opinion of the Court

The Preclusion of State Power

Even if we believed that States possessed as part of their original powers some control over congressional qualifications, the text and structure of the Constitution, the relevant historical materials, and, most importantly, the "basic principles of our democratic system" all demonstrate that the Qualifications Clauses were intended to preclude the States from exercising any such power and to fix as exclusive the qualifications in the Constitution.

Much of the historical analysis was undertaken by the Court in Powell. See supra, at 789-793. There is, however, additional historical evidence that pertains directly to the power of the States. That evidence, though perhaps not as extensive as that reviewed in Powell, leads unavoidably to the conclusion that the States lack the power to add qualifications.

The Convention and Ratification Debates

The available affirmative evidence indicates the Framers' intent that States have no role in the setting of qualifications. In Federalist Paper No. 52, dealing with the House of Representatives, Madison addressed the "qualifications of the electors and the elected." The Federalist No. 52, at 325. Madison first noted the difficulty in achieving uniformity in the qualifications for electors, which resulted in the Framers' decision to require only that the qualifications for federal electors be the same as those for state electors. Madison argued that such a decision "must be satisfactory to every State, because it is comfortable to the standard already established, or which may be established, by the State itself." Id., at 326. Madison then explicitly contrasted the state control over the qualifications of electors with the lack of state control over the qualifications of the elected:

"The qualifications of the elected, being less carefully and properly defined by the State constitutions, and being at the same time more susceptible of uniformity,

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