U. S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779, 31 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 779 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

"Times, Places and Manner" of elections. Madison noted that "[i]t was impossible to foresee all the abuses that might be made of the discretionary power." 2 Farrand 240. Gouverneur Morris feared that "the States might make false returns and then make no provisions for new elections." Id., at 241. When Charles Pinckney and John Rutledge moved to strike the congressional safeguard, the motion was soundly defeated. Id., at 240-241. As Hamilton later noted: "Nothing can be more evident than that an exclusive power of regulating elections for the national government, in the hands of the State legislatures, would leave the existence of the Union entirely at their mercy." The Federalist No. 59, at 363. See also ibid. (one justification for Times, Places and Manner Clause is that "[i]f we are in a humor to presume abuses of power, it is as fair to presume them on the part of the State governments as on the part of the general government").19

The Framers' discussion of the salary of representatives reveals similar concerns. When the issue was first raised, Madison argued that congressional compensation should be fixed in the Constitution, rather than left to state legislatures, because otherwise "it would create an improper dependence." 1 Farrand 216. George Mason agreed, noting

19 The dissent attacks our holding today by arguing that the Framers' distrust of the States extended only to measures adopted by "state legislatures," and not to measures adopted by "the people themselves." Post, at 889. See also post, at 889-890 ("These delegates presumably did not want state legislatures to be able to tell Members of Congress from their State" how to vote) (emphasis added). The novelty and expansiveness of the dissent's attack is quite astonishing. We are aware of no case that would even suggest that the validity of a state law under the Federal Constitution would depend at all on whether the state law was passed by the state legislature or by the people directly through amendment of the state constitution. Indeed, no party has so argued. Quite simply, in our view, the dissent's distinction between state legislation passed by the state legislature and legislation passed by state constitutional amendment is untenable. The qualifications in the Constitution are fixed, and may not be altered by either States or their legislatures.


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