22nd Amendment Simplified

22nd Amendment Summary
Amendment 22 deals with limiting the number of terms that a president can serve.

The 22nd Amendment was created to change the two-rule policy of the president from being a tradition to actually being a law.

Some critics say that it actually is undemocratic as it means that the people don’t have a choice to vote for the president that they want.

What is the 22nd Amendment Summary?

The 22nd Amendment says that no president can be elected more than twice or be in office for more than 10 years.

Click here or scroll down to find out why the 22nd Amendment was passed.

22nd Amendment
1: 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. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
2: This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states by the Congress.

The 22nd Amendment established term limits for the president, preventing them from being elected to more than 2 terms in office.

What is the 22nd Amendment?

The 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951 in the aftermath of Franklin Roosevelt being elected to a record 4 presidential terms in 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944.

While the original US Constitution did not set term limits for the president, every president up until Roosevelt hadn’t served more than 2 terms, following the tradition of George Washington.

Ironically, the only other president to make a serious bid to serve more than 2 presidential terms was Teddy Roosevelt, a distant relative of Franklin Roosevelt, who had attempted to serve a 3rd term when he ran as a 3rd party candidate in 1912 after serving in office from 1901-1909.

Amendment 22 was spearhead by the Republican-controlled Congress in 1947, and its partisan nature was reflected in the fact that it took nearly 4 years to be ratified, the 2nd longest approval time for an amendment to the US Constitution.

Amendment 22, Section 1

Amendment 22, Section 1 specifically prohibited a president from being elected more than two times and also prohibited a president from being elected more than once if they have already served more than 2 years of a presidential term of a previous president who had died or been removed from office.

Therefore, a president could serve up to 10 years as president, as long the partial term they served was not for more than 2 years.

This provision for serving a partial presidential term came into play a little over a decade later when President Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon Johnson took office in November of 1963. Because Johnson would only end up serving a little over a year of President Kennedy’s term, he was allowed to serve 2 more terms although he chose not to do so.

Portrait of JFK
When Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson took over from him as President and could have been president during 3 terms.

Section 1 also stipulated that the amendment would not apply to any president currently in office at the time it was proposed, or to any president in office when the amendment finally passed.

As a result, Harry Truman could have served for as many presidential terms as he wanted if he continued to win elections since the amendment was proposed and passed when he was in office.

Amendment 22, Section 2

Section 2 sets the timeframe and process for approving the 22nd Amendment, specifying that 3/4 of state legislators must approve the amendment within 7 years if it is to become law.

Although it was approved well within the 7-year approval timeframe, it took much longer to be approved than most other amendments, partly because the amendment was formulated by Republicans as a partisan response to President Franklin Roosevelt’s 4 successive presidential terms.

Dates of Proposal and Ratification for 22nd Amendment

Passed by Congress on March 21, 1947. Ratified February 27, 1951.

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