October 01, 2003

Term limits and the recall

David Ettinger writes:

    If Davis is recalled, can his successor stand for reelection in both 2006 and 2010, or is he or she termed out after winning in 2006? Article V, 2, of the California Constitution provides in part, "No Governor may serve more than 2 terms." Does finishing Davis's term constitute "serv[ing] [a] term[]" under the Constitution? I suppose so, but things would be less ambiguous if the California Constitution used the 22nd amendment's phraseology: "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."

    The state limitation on "serv[ing]" more than two terms, rather than a prohibition against being "elected" more than twice, raises an interesting question. If finishing Davis's term counts towards the two-term limit, does it count as a full term or only 3/4 of a term? If the latter, could Davis's successor be reelected in 2010 (i.e., elected governor a third time), but then be limited to serving only the first year of the term so as not to serve more than two terms?

Excellent questions that I have not explored. If others have researched the answers, send me an e-mail message.

UPDATE: Fred Woocher offers his analysis of these questions here

Posted by Rick Hasen at October 1, 2003 06:06 AM