Restricting Congressional ages unconstitutional

At the outset, I am taking personal offense at the injection of age in the 2024 elections by a couple of young whippersnappers who correlate age with competence without the facts.

Word in the pipeline is that my intent to run for something in the 2024 political musical chairs has been leaked. Just about everybody is running for something and I hate to be left on the sidelines.

The age issue has been introduced in a number of states, not to bar old people from running for president so much as impeaching two elderly frontrunners in the presidential race.

National effort

This smells like another proposal by a national right wing legislative-lobbyist organization that keeps dumping poison in the well by drafting “model” legislation for state legislatures to adopt. This has been going on for years with a considerable number of North Dakota legislators playing the game.

An initiated measure for the June primary election would create an amendment to the North Dakota constitution that would forbid anyone over 80 from being chosen for Congress.

Court has ruled

The proposal, if adopted, would set off a costly legal battle that will consume thousands of hours of unnecessary work in the office of the Secretary of State and within the statewide election system.

The U. S. Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue. In 1969, the court handed down Pawell v. McCormack that ruled states could not mess with qualifications for Congressional offices. It reaffirmed the decision in 1995 in U.S.Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton.

Article I of the U.S.Constitution provides the section being challenged by the North Dakota initiators: No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.

In black and white, the court has already said that states may not change the voting age, the citizenship requirement or the residence mandate.

Justice Joseph Story, explained the court’s decision: “The Constitution did not delegate to the states power to prescribe qualifications for Members of Congress, the Court held the states did not have such power.”

Edge of senility

While there is a decline in the capacity of elderly people, should the voters be denied the right to make that judgment or is this one of those situations where the voters must be protected from their own ignorance?

In the past, North Dakotans have elected candidates who were beyond the edge of senility. But we have also elected younger people who lacked good judgment – sometimes as harmful as an occasional far-out oldster.

There is nothing magic about the age of 80 or thereabouts. At 89, Frank Lloyd Wright finished the Guggenheim Muse; at 79, Ben Franklin invented bifocals; at 82, James Cagney appeared in Ragtime; at 85, Celestine III was elected pope; and at 90, Jacob Coxey led Coxey’s Army to Washington.


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