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Lawmakers aim to repeal 22nd Amendment

LA Daily News | June 28, 2005

President George W. Bush for life? Well, not really.

But Democrat Rep. Howard Berman would be willing to let presidents give it their best shot.

The Van Nuys congressman this week teamed up with a small group of lawmakers trying to repeal the 22nd Amendment, which limits presidents to two terms in office.

"I don't like arbitrary term limits," said Berman, who has represented his Van Nuys district since 1982.

"I think our country was better off because Franklin Delano Roosevelt was able to run for a fourth term," Berman said. "Imposing an arbitrary limit makes no sense."

Berman's concern about the 22nd Amendment comes at a time of renewed talk in Sacramento over the possibility of loosening legislative term limits as part of a redistricting agreement with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

UCLA School of Law professor Daniel Lowenstein said he finds term limits "destructive," but more so in the state Legislature than at the presidential level.

"Simply the quality of the work that they do is harmed tremendously by term limits," he said of state legislators.

Of the 22nd Amendment, Lowenstein said, "I don't think you can say that presidential term limits, since they were adopted, have had a serious negative effect."

Still, he added, "People should have the opportunity to vote for the person they want to."

Meanwhile, bills by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Long Beach, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and others that would allow Schwarzenegger to one day ascend to the presidency by amending the Constitution to allow non-natural-born U.S. citizens to become president have not seen much political traction this year.

The resolution repealing the 22nd Amendment was introduced by Maryland Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer and co-sponsored by Berman. It also earned the support of James Sensenbrenner, the conservative Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The 22nd Amendment repeal, if it passes and is approved by the states, would not go into effect until after the Bush presidency, making him ineligible for multiple consecutive terms.

Berman, a lifelong Democrat, made a point of noting that fact when discussing his support for the amendment's repeal. But he also said even the possibility of another third Bush term would not have caused him to back off the resolution.

"If we can't beat 'em on the third try, then we don't deserve it," he said

 

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