The Supreme Court struck down an amendment to the Arkansas constitution that imposed term limits for members of both houses of Congress.

By 1995 Arkansas and twenty-two other states had adopted limits on the terms of office for members of Congress. By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that such limits were unconstitutional. In his sixty-one-page opinion for the Court, Justice John Paul Stevens Stevens, John Paul;United States Term Limits v. Thornton[United States Term Limits v. Thornton] observed that term limits were qualifications and that neither states nor Congress was authorized to add to the qualifications for representatives found in Article I of the U.S. Constitution. Allowing individual states to craft their own qualifications would “erode the structure envisioned by the framers.” Therefore, a constitutional amendment was the only acceptable way to obtain the desired limits. The dissenters emphasized two points: states’ rights and silence in the Constitution concerning the issue.

Congress, qualifications for

Constitutional amendment process

Palmer v. Thompson

States’ rights and state sovereignty