The U.S. Continues to Come to Term Limits


Term limits are still a beloved reform by me, even though they've lost some heat since the 1990s. This isn't because term limits really are furthering any larger libertarian goals of limiting government's reach or shrinking its size; I haven't seen much evidence of that.

But I do know term limits definitely further a secondary goal of mine: driving most politicians to apoplectic anger.

Anyway, somewhat below the radar, and 13 years after being shot down on the federal level by the Supreme Court (and with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg steamrollering over two different citizen expressions of a desire to limit his office to two terms), the term limits movement marches on on the state and local level.

Herewith, an excerpt from a Nov. 11 piece by Steve Moore at the Wall St. Journal site's "political diary," alas not publicly available to non-subscribers:

In last week's election, limits on politicians' time in office were enacted or reaffirmed by enormous margins nearly everywhere they were on the ballot in what might have been the loudest referendum for term limitation by voters ever.

Louisiana voters said "yes" to term limits on elected state officials by a 70% to 30% margin, making the Bayou state the 15th with term limits. Meanwhile, South Dakota's lobbying community tried to overturn that state's term limits law, approved by voters 12 years earlier. Bad idea: 76% of voters said "hell, no." That was a bigger margin of victory than when term limits were originally instituted.

In localities ranging from State College, Pennsylvania to Tracy, California and Memphis, Tennessee, voters approved term limits by two-to-one margins. Eight of the ten largest U.S. cities now have term limits. The only setback was a slight one, when San Antonio voters approved an extension of term limits to a maximum of eight years in office from the current four years.