beginning to reflect these changes What has happened is in many ways a

Beginning to reflect these changes what has happened

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beginning to reflect these changes .... [W]hat has happened is in many ways a reflection of a pattern of change that has taken place now for 20 years in the Democratic Party.
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CONGRESSIONAL TERM LIMITS important here is that knocking out these legislators also essentially cuts short the hopes and the gains minority voters have received due to choosing to reelect these legislators. Minorities on the brink of seeing their representatives in posts of power for the first time would lose that nascent influence. Part of the purpose of the 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act was to "insure that the hard- won progress of the past is preserved and that the effort to achieve full participation for all Americans in our democracy will continue in the future." 226 Since term limits disproportionately impact minor- ities, such limits would seem to violate the spirit and letter of the law. A question that should concern proponents of nationwide term limits is what would replace the seniority system, and how would such change affect minority representation? As columnist George Will recognized, the seniority system was instituted when members of Congress "rose against the power of a few House leaders-the Speaker and a few committee chairmen-to shape all members' career chances by dispensing or withholding the keys to power, such as choice committee assignments." 227 In a system with nationwide term limits, tenure would not differentiate members from one another, and Congress would be left without a neutral standard for selecting its leadership. Term limits could be devastating to minority seniority in Congress. But a greater concern is the consequent effect on the ability of minorities to participate in the political process. Press Briefing, supra note 165. 226 S. REP. No. 417, supra note 155, at 4, reprinted in 1982 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 181 (emphasis added). M97 WILL, supra note 5, at 91. The threat of term limits is that Congress will return to a situation where a few will determine the careers and influence of many. California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown makes a more serious claim. Brown, who began in the Assembly in 1964, will have to leave office in 1996 pursuant to California's term limiting Proposition 140. He says the measure "must be rescinded because 'black elected officials have been able to acquire and exercise power beyond their numbers based on the security of reelectability. Term limits will spike this technique of power acquisition.'" Pearl Stewart, Term Limits Shake Up Black Politicians, BLACK ENTERPRISE, June 1992, at 40. 1993] 2363
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2364 UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 141: 2311 2. The Effect of Term Limits on Minority Participation in the Political Process Minority legislative power-exercised through representatives elected primarily by, and responsible to, minority constituencies- helps to protect minority interests against executive branch power.
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