On This Day: Presidential Term Limits Established

February 27, 2024

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.

The 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified on this day in 1951.

Why It Matters: On this day 73 years ago, “Minnesota became the 36th state to approve the proposed constitutional change, pushing the 22nd Amendment over the three-quarters threshold needed for it to be ratified” (National Constitution Center). From this date forward, the number of terms a U.S. president may serve has been limited to two (or no more than 10 years for someone who assumed the office during a presidency, not being elected).

Did You Know? President George Washington retired after serving two terms, setting an informal practice the first 31 presidents followed. President Franklin Roosevelt is the only president to have ever served more than two terms; he was elected four times, “serving from 1932 until his death in 1945 …” (The White House).

Something To Consider: Currently, members of Congress may be elected indefinitely (as long as they meet the qualifications for serving in office). However, a Pew Research Center survey conducted last summer found 87% of adults support Congressional term limits; This includes a majority (56%) who strongly favor this proposal; just 12% are opposed.

Read More: On this day: Term limits for American Presidents (National Constitution Center)

Twenty-second Amendment (Britannica)

Term limits for Congress are wildly popular. But most experts say they’d be a bad idea (NPR)

Listen: Washington’s Farewell Address (SmartHER News)

by Leah Grainery, based in Texas