Limiting Legislative Terms

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
As evidenced by Americans to Limit Congressional Terms' Kick the Bums Out! and James Coyne and John H. Fund's Cleaning House , reviewed above, public dissatisfaction with Congress in light of its banking, post office, and check-cashing scandals has reached unprecedented levels, spawning movements across the country to limit the terms not only of congressional representatives but also of state legislators. In an impassioned polemic against legislative careerism and in support of term limits, Will says careerism in Washington has caused nearly all the country's problems, from the quadrupling of the national debt to continued funding for public broadcasting. By adopting term limits, Will argues that representatives will become less parochial--concerned only with their districts' constituents--and will be driven instead to act in the interest of the entire country. To support his position, Will turns to Thomas Jefferson and the Anti-Federalists, arguing that the Founding Fathers' intention to limit terms can be seen in the early practice of voluntary rotation in office and in the Founders' understanding of classical republicanism. Unfortunately, Will's interpretation is not widely shared, nor is it complete. Madison, for example, knew the value of political ambition in attracting the best people to government if ambition could be properly harnessed. The Constitution contained sufficient checks--without including term limits--to satisfy all its signers. Will also fails to respond adequately to the most serious arguments against term limits--that they would give lobbyists even greater influence and would shift the balance of power to the president and the bureaucracy. Still, this is an essential purchase for Will devotees. Others who wish to obtain a more balanced treatment should consider Limiting Legislative Terms. This collection of essays, originally written by noted political scientists for a 1991 conference, examines both sides of the issue and considers the consequences of term limitations on both Congress and state legislatures. The articles by Mark Petracca and Michael Malbin reviewing the theoretical and historical origins of term limits are excellent, far more insightful than the overview attempted by Will. The book also includes the texts of the term-limit initiatives from California, Colorado, and Oklahoma, a California court decision on the issue, and several tables that present data on legislative careerism and turnover. Recommended for academic and larger public library political science collections.-- Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
In a dozen essays, presents both the pros and cons of the parking- meter method of throwing the bums out. Also includes reference material such as the text of proposed bills and legal decisions, and tables of research findings. Discusses the history (since 1788) and political theory, the campaigns for and against, and the implications for political careers, legislatures, and government. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871877406
  • Publisher: Congressional Quarterly, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/1994
  • Pages: 324

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