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Term limits challenge rejected by federal appeals court

November 17, 2021 GMT

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A federal appeals court wasn’t swayed Wednesday by a challenge to a Michigan law that restricts how long people can serve in the Legislature.

Voters in 1992 added term limits to the state constitution. House members can serve three consecutive terms — six years — while senators can serve two terms, which add up to eight years.

“More than twenty years ago, the people of Michigan chose a citizen legislature, not a professional one,” the court said in a 3-0 opinion. “Now, legislators with years of experience seek to use the federal courts to get around their state’s sovereign choice.

“But it’s not our place to intervene on their behalf. If they want to change the law, they’ll have to do that at the ballot box,” the court said.

The court turned aside arguments against the term limits law and affirmed a decision by U.S. District Judge Janet Neff in Grand Rapids.

Former lawmakers argued that the law illegally blocked their access to the ballot. The court, however, said the law controls eligibility, not access.