U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995). Argued November 29, 1994; decided May 22, 1995.
The exercise by Congress of its power to judge the qualifications of its Members further confirmed this understanding. We concluded that, during the first 100 years of its existence, "Congress strictly limited its power to judge the qualifications of its members to those enumerated in the Constitution." 395 U. S., at 542.
"It would seem but fair reasoning upon the plainest principles of interpretation, that when the constitution established certain qualifications, as necessary for office, it meant to exclude all others, as prerequisites. From the very nature of such a provision, the affirmation of these qualifications would seem to imply a negative of all others." 1 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States 625 (3d ed. 1858) (hereinafter Story). See also Warren 421 ("As the Constitution
Unsurprisingly, the state courts and lower federal courts have similarly concluded that Powell conclusively resolved the issue whether Congress has the power to impose additional qualifications. See, e. g., Joyner v. Mofford, 706 F.2d 1523, 1528 (CA9 1983) ("In Powell
Petitioners argue that the Constitution contains no express prohibition against state-added qualifications, and that Amendment 73 is therefore an appropriate exercise of a State's reserved power to place additional restrictions on the choices that its own voters may make. We disagree for two independent reasons. First, we conclude that the power to add qualifications is not within the "original powers" of the States, and thus is not reserved to the States by the Tenth Amendment. Second, even if States possessed some original power in this area, we conclude that the Framers intended the Constitution to be the exclusive source of qualifications for Members of Congress, and that the Framers thereby "divested" States of any power to add qualifications.