The Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution is one part of the Constitution that should never be touched. Never. A limit on the presidential term is necessary. I warned on Facebook months ago to be immediately alarmed when someone aims to remove this limit.
Well unbeknownst to me at the time I made that statement, a Congressman has been trying for over 13 years to do just that.
At the start of every congressional term since 1997, most recently introduced in 2009, Congressman Jose Serrano [D-NY(16)] has introduced a joint resolution calling for the repeal of the 22nd Amendment. It has never made it out of committee.
Now the big question that needs to be asked is why Serrano wants to see that Amendment repealed.
Bear in mind that he has been trying this since 1997, through Clinton’s second term in office, Bush’s two terms in office, and now in Obama’s first term, so this is not an attempt specifically aimed at eliminating the term limit such that Obama could run indefinitely (assuming he remains popular after this year), as some bloggers have alleged, but it is definitely something of which to be concerned.
Now there are some valid arguments for repealing the presidential term limit. One analogy I saw on a blog is similar to a company telling you that you’ll have your job for another year, but then you’re fired. The “lame duck” term of the President, many have argued, weakens the President politically, or drives him to take greater political risks because another term is no longer a prospect, so long as he doesn’t do something to get impeached.
But while there are good political arguments for the repeal of the 22nd Amendment, there is always that one overwhelming argument: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his four elected terms in office, though he would die in office shortly into his fourth term. Congress did not want that ever to happen again, and the States agreed.
Now term limits were not instituted in the Constitution by the Founders because they thought that the people would be able to determine for themselves when the time was right to replace whoever was in office. However they also intended for the President to be subordinate and answerable to Congress and the States. The proposal and subsequent ratification of the Twenty-Second Amendment confirmed that in a most beautiful manner, and for that reason it should never be repealed.
Update: Please read my follow-up to this topic if you are someone who is concerned about Serrano’s recent re-introduction of his proposal to repeal the 22nd Amendment.