U.S. Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) discussed the pro and cons of congressional term limits during a campaign stop in Brigham City on Mar. 29. Curtis is one of several candidates vying to replace Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) in Washington (Image courtesy of Facebook).

BRIGHAM CITY – There is reportedly “strong support” for congressional term limits within the field of candidates vying to replace outgoing Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) in Washington.

Three of the five candidate in that race are in favor of a constitutional amendment that would limit congressmen to three two-year terms in the House of Representatives and two six-year terms in the U.S. Senate, according to Philip Blumel, the president of the U.S. Term Limits (USTL) organization.

The candidates who have pledged strong support of that idea are Brent Hatch, the son of former Senate Orrin Hatch; former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson; and candidate Ty Jensen.

But how about Rep. John Curtis (R-UT)?

Not so much, the front-runner signaled at a huge political meet-and-greet held Mar. 29 here in Brigham City.

“I served as mayor (of Provo) for eight years,” Curtis pointed out. “I served in the House for seven years.

“I actually do feel like a number of people (in office) do stay too long,” he added. “But I think that my record shows that I won’t be one of them.”

In a news release issued by USTL on Mar. 26, Blumel boasted that, by signing the term limit pledge on Mar. 21, Hatch showed that he was ready to join more than 130 members of Congress who already favor that idea.

“This strong support of term limits shows that there are individuals who are willing to put self-interest aside to follow the will of the people,” Blumel insisted. “America needs a Congress that will be served by citizen legislators, not career politicians.”

Blumel noted that candidates Jensen and Wilson had signed the USTL pledge previously.

Since its founding in 1992, USTL claims to have helped facilitate more than 500 successful term limit initiatives at various levels of state government. Congress still resists any such limitations, however.

Recently, USTL spokesmen have argued that 87 percent of Americans have rejected the career politician model and now support term limits, based on studies by the Pew Research organization.

“I’m very much aware of the concern about long-term politicians not being necessarily a healthy thing,” Curtis admitted. “But I don’t know how anybody determines when that day should be.”

Legal scholars have the same problem when trying to determine when congressional leadership looses its effectiveness or how to impose terms limits.

In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the efforts of individual states to impose congressional term limits through state legislation, ruling that only a constitutional amendment could make that change.

Since members of Congress would be unlikely to pass a draft constitutional amendment to limit their own terms, USTL now campaigns to get the members of 34 state legislatures to call for a national constitutional convention to draft such an amendment.

While that idea might sound good in theory, legal scholars are leery of calling a constitutional convention – particularly in America’s hyper-partisan climate – because that convention’s members could go off in an unexpected direction.

“I think you have to be ready for wherever direction a convention goes once you call one,” Curtis suggested.

Curtis is not alone in that opinion.

More than 30 years ago, former Chief Justice Warren Burger suggested that the agenda of a constitutional convention called for a single issue could easily veer in other directions, particularly under the influence of special interest lobbying. The late Justice Antonin Scalia voiced similar concerns as recently as 2014.

But Blumel and other members of the USTL still adamantly call for change.

“America is in trouble,” he emphasized. “Our career politicians have let the people down. It is time to return control of our nation to the people … by limiting congressional terms.”

Meanwhile, Curtis recommends following the common-sense lessons of history, rather than going off the deep end.

“Historically,” he said, “(tenure in Congress) has been left up to the candidates themselves and the voters.”

U.S. Term Limits is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates for congressional term limits. It’s stated mission is to improve the quality of governance by promoting a citizen legislature that closely reflects its constituency and is responsive to the needs of the people it serves.







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