CO court rejects Libertarian appeal of term-limits ruling


The Colorado Court of Appeals has rejected Boulder County Libertarian Party chairman Ralph Shnelvar’s effort to get it to rule that a partial term should count against term limits when it comes to a county commissioner’s ability to seek re-election.

At issue was whether incumbent Commissioner Cindy Domenico should have been allowed to seek another full four-year term in last year’s elections.

The Court of Appeals announced Thursday that one of its three-judge panels had dismissed Shnelvar’s appeal of a January 2014 Boulder District Court decision that held that the partial term Domenico served from July 2007 to January 2011 didn’t bar her from seeking re-election last year.

Read the rest of the article by John Fryar at

8 thoughts on “CO court rejects Libertarian appeal of term-limits ruling

  1. Matt Cholko

    I don’t think Libertarians should support term limits. In a representative democracy, the voters should be able to re-elect someone as many times as they wish.

  2. Joe Wendt

    Restricting voter choice by denying the voters the opportunity to vote for the incumbent due to term limits is a bit hypocritical for a party that constantly complains about government “restricting voter choices.” It smells a bit hypocritical.

  3. Nicholas Sarwark

    Having lived in states with term limits and states without term limits, my experience is that governance is better in those states with term limits.

    However, I would question whether Virginia’s one-term gubernatorial limit is positive.

  4. Andy Craig Post author

    I’m sympathetic to the arguments against it, and I think the benefits can be overstated, but on net I come down in favor of term limits. Career incumbents have been demonstrated to be a sufficient harm unto themselves, particularly when combined with other favoritism and protectionism for incumbents.

    Term limits would force the abolition of the tenure-based seniority system in legislatures, and that would be the biggest benefit. The problem isn’t just long-term incumbents, the problem is long-term incumbents concentrating power in themselves and thereby extending the delay between a change in public opinion and a change in legislated policy. It defeats the purpose of having frequent elections every two years, if it takes two decades for a turnover in actual power-wielders in the legislature.

    I’d happily trade away the rare fluke of having a Ron Paul, if it meant all effective power and all committee chairmanships weren’t held by a small cadre of multi-decade incumbents, while most of the House is cut out of the loop and relegated to backbenchers hoping to stick around long enough to advance. The whole system is profoundly anti-meritocratic and leads to much less representative House of Representatives and less deliberative Senate (and ditto for state legislatures, etc.) And as Ron Paul demonstrated, sticking around long enough is no guarantee against still being shut out from chairmanships and leadership on the basis of ideology.

  5. Steve Scheetz

    Well, here is the issue with not having term limits. Certain politicians become so entrenched because their party’s machine gerrymanders their districts in such a way as to make them unbeatable.

    Here in the Philly area, Chaka Fattah of the Second Congresional district has had 89-90+ percent of the vote or has been virtually unopposed for 2 decades… This despite the fact that he has been corrupt from the first, and has finally been indicted on racketeering / corruption charges…. On a side note, if he is put in jail, in the Philly area, he will most likely STILL be re-elected.

    District 2 is his. PA state legislator district 140 has been created to keep the Democrat so entrenched, republicans have stopped fielding candidates.

    Anyway, saying that there is hypocrisy in the call for term limits is not a solid argument if one looks at the reality of electoral politics in a representative democracy.


    Steve Scheetz

  6. Andy Craig Post author

    “On a side note, if he is put in jail, in the Philly area, he will most likely STILL be re-elected.”

    He could be in jail anywhere and do it. He only has to be a resident of the state, and even if he was shipped off to a federal prison across the country his legal residence would remain in PA. Thus he could pull the Trafficant stunt, and run from prison outside the district.

    Interesting connection: the reason that’s the case is because of the Supreme Court Decision in the US Term Limits, striking down state-imposed term limits that denied ballot access to those above the limit. Surprise, surprise, the Supreme Court found it much more important to defend the ballot access of incumbents than they ever have the ballot access of third parties. The logic being that the list of requirements (age, citizenship, residency) in the Constitution is definitive and exhaustive, so states can’t impose a ban on felons or jailbirds any more than they can fourth-termers. In contrast, in most states you can’t run for state office with a felony record.

  7. Starchild

    Andy Craig’s insightful comments (August 2, 2015 at 10:57 pm) roughly articulate my own thinking on term limits.

    Although the principle of voter choice is important, I think it is trumped (please excuse the use of that verb) by the principle of limiting government power.

    In fact, a litmus test that I recommend applying to ALL public policy questions is:

    How would this proposed change tend to effect the size, scope, cost, and power of government? Would this proposed change tend to increase the power of the People relative to the State, or would it tend to increase the power of the State relative to the People?

    Just about anything that would tilt the balance of power further toward government should be opposed, and just about anything that would tilt the balance of power toward the people should be supported, with the caveat that one should weigh not only the expected direct effects of a choice, but also consider what longer-term effects that choice might have on the balance of power.

    Regarding term limits, voters can always choose to reelect someone after s/he’s been out of office a term or two, if the individual is really deemed the best person to spend more time in power (or people think s/he is).

  8. paulie

    What’s the objective evidence on whether term limits reverse or slow the growth of spending, regulaion and indebtedness or not?

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