WASHINGTON – One thing is certain about the 2008 presidential election campaign that begins in one year: It won’t involve George W. Bush as a candidate.
But bipartisan legislation to repeal the 22nd Amendment restriction of two terms for U.S. presidents could change that certainty for future presidents.
Two of the most passionate congressional advocates of such a move – Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-MD, and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-WI – have teamed up to sponsor a resolution that would represent the first step toward that change in the U.S. political system.
“The time has come to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, and not because of partisan politics,” explained Hoyer. “While I am not a supporter of the current President, I feel there are good public policy reasons for a repeal of this amendment. Under the Constitution as altered by the 22nd Amendment, this must be President George W. Bush’s last term even if the American people should want him to continue in office. This is an undemocratic result.”
Until President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to his fourth term during World War II, there was no such restriction in American law. A tradition of presidents serving two terms only began with George Washington.
“We do not have to rely on rigid constitutional standards to hold our Presidents accountable,” said Hoyer. “Sufficient power resides in the Congress and the Judiciary to protect our country from tyranny.”
Hoyer argues the 22nd Amendment “has the effect of removing the president from the accountability to political forces that come to bear during regular elections every four years.”
Rep. Howard Berman, D-CA, is another advocate of the move.
“I don’t like arbitrary term limits,” he said. “I think our country was better off because Franklin Delano Roosevelt was able to run for a fourth term. Imposing an arbitrary limit makes no sense.”
Should the resolution pass and be approved by the states, the repeal would not go into effect until after the Bush presidency, making him ineligible for multiple consecutive terms.
The 22nd Amendment states: “Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
“Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states by the Congress.”
Hoyer’s bill is not the only one in the House with the same goal. Rep. Jose Serrano, D-NY, has introduced a similar resolution. Both of the Democrats have been working on repealing the 22nd Amendment since the presidency of Bill Clinton.
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