Tap to Read ➤

The 22nd Amendment: Purpose and Summary

Anuj Mudaliar Feb 27, 2020
Made to prevent the President of the United States from turning into some sort of dictator, the 22nd Amendment is very important to the politics and governance of the nation. This Story oversees the summary, meaning, and purpose of the 22nd Amendment of the US Constitution.

Did You Know?

Since the 22nd Amendment was passed, there have been several attempts by various members of Congress for repealing it. 23 such attempts have been made in the last 20 years alone. However, each of them have failed to pass in both houses of Congress.
The 22nd Amendment can be defined as an addition to the Constitution, which stipulates that no President of the United States will serve for more than two four-year terms in office. It also limits the maximum time a president may stay in office to 10 years, in case he takes up the post halfway through the previous president's term.
The original Constitution did not have any rules regarding the number of terms the president could serve. According to historians, George Washington did not seek a third term due to his age, setting an unofficial standard.
He was followed by Thomas Jefferson, who also did not seek a third term in office. A maximum of two terms became an unofficial standard, till Ulysses Grant attempted and failed to get re-elected for a third term.
Similarly, Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, and Woodrow Wilson tried to get re-elected for a third term, but all failed. Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the elections four times consecutively, between 1932 and 1944, following which the 22nd Amendment was passed by Congress on March 21, 1947, and was approved in most states in 1951.
No other president in the history of the United States has served for more than two terms.

22nd Amendment: Summary and Meaning

The 22nd Amendment is made up of 2 sections.

Section 1

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.
This article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress.
It shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President or acting as President during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.


The 22nd Amendment states that no President of the United States can be elected for office for more than two terms. It also states that if a vice-president takes over the term of the president for more than two years, he can serve only one additional term as president.
However, if the vice-president takes over the presidency for less than two years, he can serve for two 4-year additional terms.

Section 2

"This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states by the Congress."


Section two states that the Amendment will not be brought into effect unless it is approved by the representatives of three-fourths of the states in the United States within a 7-year time period after its submission by Congress. However, since the Amendment was approved 4 years after it was passed by Congress, this section now stands irrelevant.

22nd Amendment: Significance

Since the 22nd Amendment was institutionalized, Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama have served 2 consecutive full terms. Now that we have seen what the 22nd Amendment is, let us see its impact and facts, which portray its pros and cons.
The most important advantage of the 22nd Amendment is that, the president does not enjoy a king-like status. This is because, without the Amendment, the president can make the presidency a lifetime appointment, which would negate the idea of a democracy.
Also, because the president is the only elected government official without any opposition, the amendment ensures that personality in office would be changed after the end of the two terms, keeping the environment fresh and dynamic. However, critics of the Amendment say that, the citizens of the country should have the right to choose to retain a president who is competent and doing a good job.
The Amendment also reduces the temptation to give out political favors, such as subsidies and grants, to get re-elected. On the other hand, critics say that the Amendment is bound to make the president lax during the second term, because he anyway does not have to worry about running for elections again.
It is important to note that the Amendment does not answer all legalities that can appear in exceptional circumstances, such as multiple successions, or the eligibility of a former president to become the vice-president. Such questions need separate arbitration.