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Constitutional Cliffhangers$
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Brian C. Kalt

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780300123517

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300123517.001.0001

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The Third-Term Controversy

The Third-Term Controversy

(p.133) 6 The Third-Term Controversy
Constitutional Cliffhangers

Brian C. Kalt

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the Twenty-Second Amendment, ratified in 1951, which states that the president of the United States is limited to serving two terms. However, given strong enough incentives and good enough lawyers, people may take things that everybody knows are not legal and find a way to make them legal after all. The right political climate can also transform “everybody knows” to “everybody thought,” and half the country can decide overnight that it now “knows” something quite different. The legal maneuvering described here can help a president serve a third term—perhaps even a fourth and fifth. A president would have to be very popular to try this, but if he or she is, then he or she might be popular enough to succeed.

Keywords:   president, Twenty-Second Amendment, political climate, legal maneuvering, strong enough incentives, good enough lawyers

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