In North Dakota, a Big Move on Congress Age Limits

Voters decide candidates can't turn 81 during House or Senate term; legal challenge is expected
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2024 1:47 PM CDT
Voters Here Just Passed Age Limits for Congress
Stock photo of the US Capitol.   (Getty Images/scgerding)

Tuesday's GOP primary in North Dakota is now over, and the victors are celebrating. Nestled in with those announcements is one regarding a "high-profile initiative" that voters also passed: Candidates out of the Peace Garden State can't run for US Congress (so neither the Senate nor the House) if they would turn 81 years old at any point during their term, per the AP. Axios reports that this appears to be the first state to impose a measure like this, with both that outlet and the New York Times noting the vote comes against the backdrop of the conversation on how old President Biden (81) and former President Trump (turning 78 on Friday) are as they run for the Oval Office again.

The ballot measure would effectively amend the state's constitution. Still, lawmakers concede that the move will likely be challenged in court, as a 1995 Supreme Court ruling determined that states "cannot impose additional restrictions, such as term limits, on its representatives in the federal government beyond those provided by the Constitution." Although there are age minimums laid out in the US Constitution—25 for the House, 30 for the Senate—there's no cap on the max end.

Jared Hendrix, a GOP politician from Fargo who helped spearhead the North Dakota initiative, thinks his state is only the first to move in this direction, especially since US opinion polls over the past few years show that a majority of Americans would be all for maximum age limits. "I think it's very possible that if we pull this off here, other states will follow," Hendrix said before Tuesday's election, per the Times. (More North Dakota stories.)

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