U. S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779, 30 (1995)

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808

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

Opinion of the Court

Madison emphasized this same idea in The Federalist No. 57:

"Who are to be the objects of popular choice? Every citizen whose merit may recommend him to the esteem and confidence of his country. No qualification of wealth, of birth, of religious faith, or of civil profession is permitted to fetter the judgment or disappoint the inclination of the people." The Federalist No. 57, at 351 (emphasis added).

The provisions in the Constitution governing federal elections confirm the Framers' intent that States lack power to add qualifications. The Framers feared that the diverse interests of the States would undermine the National Legislature, and thus they adopted provisions intended to minimize the possibility of state interference with federal elections. For example, to prevent discrimination against federal electors, the Framers required in Art. I, 2, cl. 1, that the qualifications for federal electors be the same as those for state electors. As Madison noted, allowing States to differentiate between the qualifications for state and federal electors "would have rendered too dependent on the State governments that branch of the federal government which ought to be dependent on the people alone." The Federalist No. 52, at 326. Similarly, in Art. I, 4, cl. 1, though giving the States the freedom to regulate the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections," the Framers created a safeguard against state abuse by giving Congress the power to "by Law make or alter such Regulations." The Convention debates make clear that the Framers' overriding concern was the potential for States' abuse of the power to set the

elected officials. As we describe in some detail, infra, at 823-826, nearly every State had property qualifications, and many States had religious qualifications, term limits, or other qualifications. As Madison surely recognized, without a constitutional prohibition, these qualifications could be applied to federal representatives. We cannot read Madison's comments on the "open door" of the Federal Government as anything but a rejection of the "unduly high" barriers imposed by States.

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