The Public Interest

Limiting government by limiting congressional terms

James L. Payne

Spring 1991

THE DEBATE ON the limitation of congressional terms features a provocative matchup of contenders.  In one comer are the voters, who support term limitation.  A nationwide New York Times/CBS poll on limiting terms for the House of Representatives was conducted last April; it showed 61 percent in favor and 31 percent opposed. When offered an opportunity to apply term limitation at the local level, voters have seized it: referenda limiting state legislators’ stay in office were supported in 1990 by 67 percent of Oklahomans, 71 percent of Coloradans, and 52 percent of Californians—despite the participation of Hollywood stars in a well-financed opposition campaign.

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