Alaska Term Limits, Measure 4 (1996)

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The Alaska Term Limits Initiative, also known as Measure 4, was on the November 5, 1996 ballot in Alaska as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure supported "an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting U.S. Senators to two terms and U.S. Representatives to three terms."[1]

Election results

Alaska Measure 4 (1996)
Approveda Yes 123,167 54.57%

Election results via: Alaska Department of Elections

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

Proposition: This initiative encourages support of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting U.S. Senators to two terms and U.S. Representatives to three terms. State legislators failing to take actions to support the amendment would have printed on the ballot next to their names "VIOLATED VOTER INSTRUCTION ON TERM LIMITS". Members of Congress failing to take such actions would also have this phrase printed next to their names. Non-incumbent candidates for Congress and the state legislature could take a "terms limits" pledge. If they decline, "DECLINED TO TAKE PLEDGE TO SUPPORT TERM LIMITS" would be printed next to their names.

Should this initiative become law?

Yes [ ]
No [ ][2]



Edward Burke, chair of the Alaska Term Limit Coalition, wrote the official ballot guide supporting argument for Measure 4. He wrote:

Voting yes on Proposition #4 will be the first thing you can do to put term limits on members of Congress and help end business as usual in Washington, D.C. Proposition #4 puts you back in charge of your government. Two years ago the citizens of Alaska passed congressional term limits with 63 percent of the vote only to be thwarted by arrogant judges and ignored by career politicians. This year we are back and you can make congressional term limits a reality by voting "Yes" on Proposition #4.

Proposition #4 will impose term limits on all members of Congress, and not single out Alaska's delegation.

Today's election process heavily favors incumbents. Through a list of advantages available only to incumbents paid for by you, such as taxpayer financed bulk mailings, highly paid and trained political staffs, pork barrel politics and special interest money. Simply put, a member of congress can have a job for life if they play their cards right - and most of them do.

A yes vote on Proposition #4 is the only way to level the playing field and let fresh ideas and new faces into the system of entrenched career politicians. A yes vote on Proposition #4 is about cleaning out the system of seniority and power accumulation and replacing it with citizen legislators who know what it is like to live outside of government. Citizen legislators are more likely to work for the good of the country instead of the good of the special interests that fuel the perpetual reelection campaigns of the career politician.

We need citizen legislators in this country, not masters of parliamentary games and backroom deals. For all of their experience, all they have to show is skyrocketing debt and inefficient programs that do more harm than good. We need the kind of common sense in government that comes from people who know what it is like to run a private business, to teach children in schools or any number of other fields in the private sector.

Proposition #4 will lead to greater citizen participation in government. More open seats will allow more people than ever before to run for and win seats in Congress.

Since 1990, 23 million Americans have voted for congressional term limits in 23 states. Instead of listening to the people, the career politicians looked to the Courts for protection. In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court sided with the politicians over the people. Proposition #4 gives the power back to the people. The President, 40 governors, including Alaska's, and 20 state legislators, as well as thousands of cities, including Anchorage, have term limits for elected officials. Congress has a clear conflict of interest on term limits. We hold the key to real reform and Proposition #4 moves toward the day when all of Congress will serve under term limits. Vote YES on Proposition #4.[2]

—Edward Burke[1]



Bill Spearman of the Alaska TRIM Committee wrote the official ballot guide opposition argument for Measure 4. He wrote:

This ballot measure calls for holding a CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION. Had this measure been fully explained, Alaska voters would never have signed petitions to get it on the ballot. Under the banner of term limits, petitioners have induced voters to sign a document to force our state legislators to call the first constitutional convention since our Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia in 1787.

An Article V constitutional convention is a process for making amendments (in the plural) to the United States Constitution. America's top legal scholars believe that it is dangerous because it could adopt changes in the entire Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Chief Justice of the United States Warren Burger: "After a Convention is convened it will be too late to stop the Convention if we don't like its agenda...A new Convention could plunge our nation into constitutional confusion and confrontation at every turn..."

Supreme Court Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg: " of the most serious problems Article V poses is a runaway convention. There is no enforceable mechanism to prevent a convention from reporting out wholesale changes in our Constitution and Bill of Rights."

Gerald Gunther, Professor of Law, Stanford University: "The fear that a constitutional convention could become a 'runaway' convention and propose wholesale changes in our Constitution is by no means unfounded. Rather, this broad view of the authority of a convention reflects the consensus of most constitutional scholars who have commented on the issue...I have developed lengthy arguments, legal and practical, that support the case that there is no effective way to limit the agenda of a convention, as have many other scholars."

No matter what else Ballot Measure 4 may contain, the application to Congress to call a convention with power to make fundamental, structural changes in the whole Constitution fatally infects it with power to do irreparable harm.

Our Constitution already contains checks and balances that limit the power of our federal government. Would a new constitutional convention be more likely to further limit the federal government's power or to expand its power? Do you want today's politicians making "wholesale changes" to our Constitution? Our Constitution is not flawed, it only needs to be followed and it is up to the voters to ensure that it is.

Additionally, state legislators who oppose this measure would have wording placed beside their names on future ballots accusing them of failure to support term limits. This misrepresents the motives of the legislators who honored their oaths of office by refusing to endanger the Constitution in an Article V convention. An identical ballot measure in Idaho was declared unconstitutional by the Attorney General. This negative notation on ballots results in the government taking a side on an issue and using the power of government to influence the outcome of elections.

We would be foolish indeed to endanger our entire system of government to expel those members of Congress whom the voters can retire any time they decide to do so.[2]

—Bill Spearman[1]

See also

Suggest a link

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Alaska Department of Elections, "BALLOT MEASURE NO. 4: Candidates' Positions on Congressional Term Limits," accessed February 3, 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.