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Comparison of U.S. state governments

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the United States, the government of each of the 50 states is structured in accordance with its individual constitution. In turn, each state constitution must be grounded in republican principles. Article IV, Section 4, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution tasks the federal government with assuring that each state’s government is so organized.[1]

All state governments are modeled after the federal government and consist of three branches (although the three-branch structure is not Constitutionally required): executive, legislative, and judicial.[2][3] All state governments are also organized as presidential systems where the governor is both head of government and head of state (even though this too is not required). The government of each of the five permanently inhabited U.S. territories is modeled and organized in a like fashion.

Each state is itself a sovereign entity, and as such, reserves the right to organize in any way (within the above stated parameter) deemed appropriate by its people. As a result, while the governments of the various states share many similar features, they often vary greatly with regard to form and substance. No two state governments are identical. The following tables compare and contrast some of the features of U.S. state, and territorial governments, and also the government of the District of Columbia, its capital city.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Federalism: Crash Course Government and Politics #4
  • ✪ How is power divided in the United States government? - Belinda Stutzman
  • ✪ How Big Should Government Be? Left vs. Right #1
  • ✪ The Government vs. the American Character
  • ✪ 16.2 State Governments


Hi, I'm Craig and this is Crash Course Government and Politics. Today we're going to talk about a fundamental concept to American government, federalism. Sorry. I'm not sorry. You're not even endangered anymore. So federalism is a little confusing because it includes the word, "federal," as in federal government, which is what we use to describe the government of the United States as a whole. Which is kind of the opposite of what we mean when we say federalism. Confused? Google it. This video will probably come up. And then just watch this video. Or, just continue watching this video. [Intro] So what is federalism? Most simply, it's the idea that in the US, governmental power is divided between the government of the United States and the government of the individual states. The government of the US, the national government, is sometimes called the federal government, while the state governments are just called the state governments. This is because technically the US can be considered a federation of states. But this means different things to different people. For instance, federation of states means ham sandwich to me. I'll have one federation of states, please, with a side of tater tots. Thank you. I'm kind of dumb. In the federal system, the national government takes care of some things, like for example, wars with other countries and delivering the mail, while the state government takes care of other things like driver's license, hunting licenses, barber's licences, dentist's licenses, license to kill - nah, that's James Bond. And that's in England. And I hope states don't do that. Pretty simple right? Maybe not. For one thing, there are some aspects of government that are handled by both the state and national government. Taxes, American's favorite government activity, are an example. There are federal taxes and state taxes. But it gets even more complicated because there are different types of federalism depending on what period in American history you're talking about. UGH! Stan! Why is history so confusing!? UGH! Stan, are you going to tell me? Can you talk Stan? Basically though, there are two main types of federalism -dual federalism, which has nothing to do Aaron Burr, usually refers to the period of American history that stretches from the founding of our great nation until the New Deal, and cooperative federalism, which has been the rule since the 1930s. Let's start with an easy one and start with dual federalism in the Thought Bubble. From 1788 until 1937, the US basically lived under a regime of dual federalism, which meant that government power was strictly divided between the state and national governments. Notice that I didn't say separated, because I don't want you to confuse federalism with the separation of powers. DON'T DO IT! With dual federalism, there are some things that only the federal government does and some things that only the state governments do. This is sometimes called jurisdiction. The national government had jurisdiction over internal improvements like interstate roads and canals, subsidies to the states, and tariffs, which are taxes on imports and thus falls under the general heading of foreign policy. The national government also owns public lands and regulates patents which need to be national for them to offer protection for inventors in all the states. And because you want a silver dollar in Delaware to be worth the same as a silver dollar in Georgia, the national government also controls currency. The state government had control over property laws, inheritance laws, commercial laws, banking laws, corporate laws, insurance, family law, which means marriage and divorce, morality -- stuff like public nudeness and drinking - which keeps me in check -- public health, education, criminal laws including determining what is a crime and how crimes are prosecuted, land use, which includes water and mineral rights, elections, local government, and licensing of professions and occupations, basically what is required to drive a car, or open a bar or become a barber or become James Bond. So, under dual federalism, the state government has jurisdiction over a lot more than the national government. These powers over health, safety and morality are sometimes called police power and usually belong to the states. Because of the strict division between the two types of government, dual federalism is sometimes called layer cake federalism. Delicious. And it's consistent with the tradition of limited government that many Americans hold dear. Thanks Thought Bubble. Now, some of you might be wondering, Craig, where does the national government get the power to do anything that has do to with states? Yeah, well off the top of my head, the US Constitution in Article I, Section 8 Clause 3 gives Congress the power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." This is what is known as the Commerce Clause, and the way that it's been interpreted is the basis of dual federalism and cooperative federalism. For most of the 19th century, the Supreme Court has decided that almost any attempt by any government, federal or state, to regulate state economic activity would violate the Commerce Clause. This basically meant that there was very little regulation of business at all. FREEDOOOOOOMM! This is how things stood, with the US following a system of dual federalism, with very little government regulation and the national government not doing much other than going to war or buying and conquering enormous amounts of territories and delivering the mail. Then the Great Depression happened, and Franklin Roosevelt and Congress enacted the New Deal, which changed the role of the federal government in a big way. The New Deal brought us cooperative federalism, where the national government encourages states and localities to pursue nationally-defined goals. The main way that the federal government does this is through dollar-dollar bills, y'all. Money is what I'm saying. Stan, can I make it rain? Yeah? Alright, I'm doing it. I happen to have cash in my hand now. Oh yeah, take my federal money, states. Regulating ya. Regulator. This money that the federal government gives to the states is called a grant-in-aid. Grants-in-aid can work like a carrot encouraging a state to adopt a certain policy or work like a stick when the federal government withholds funds if a state doesn't do what the national government wants. Grants-in-aid are usually called categorical, because they're given to states for a particular purpose like transportation or education or alleviating poverty. There are 2 types of categorical grants-in-aid: formula grants and project grants. Under a formula grant, a state gets aid in a certain amount of money based on a mathematical formula; the best example of this is the old way welfare was given in the US under the program called Aid to Families with Dependent Children. AFDC. States got a certain amount of money for every person who was classified as "poor." The more poor people a state had, the more money it got. Project grants require states to submit proposals in order to receive aid. The states compete for a limited pool of resources. Nowadays, project grants are more common than formula grants, but neither is as popular as block grants, which the government gives out Lego Blocks and then you build stuff with Legos. It's a good time. No no, the national government gives a state a huge chunk of money for something big, like infrastructure, which is made with concrete and steel, and not Legos, and the state is allowed to decide how to spend the money. The basic type of cooperative federalism is the carrot stick type which is sometimes called marble cake federalism because it mixes up the state and federal governments in ways that makes it impossible to separate the two. Federalism, it's such a culinary delight. The key to it is, you guessed it - dollar dollar bills y'all. Money. But there are another aspect of cooperative federalism that's really not so cooperative, and that's regulated federalism. Under regulated federalism, the national governments sets up regulations and rules that the states must follow. Some examples of these rules, also called mandates, are EPA regulations, civil rights standards, and the rules set up by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sometimes the government gives the states money to implement the rules, but sometimes it doesn't and they must comply anyways. That's called an unfunded mandate. Or as I like to call it, an un-fun mandate. Because no money, no fun. A good example of example of this is OSHA regulations that employers have to follow. States don't like these, and Congress tried to do something about them with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act or UMRA, but it hasn't really worked. In the early 21st century, Americans are basically living under a system of cooperative federalism with some areas of activity that are heavily regulated. This is a stretch from the original idea that federalism will keep the national government small and have most government functions belong to the states. If you follow American politics, and I know you do, this small government ideal should sound familiar because it's the bedrock principle of many conservatives and libertarians in the US. As conservatives made many political inroads during the 1970s, a new concept of federalism, which was kind of an old concept of federalism, became popular. It was called, SURPRISE, New Federalism, and it was popularized by Presidents Nixon and Reagan. Just to be clear, it's called New Federalism not Surprise New Federalism. New federalism basically means giving more power to the states, and this has been done in three ways. First, block grants allow states discretion to decide what to do with federal money, and what's a better way to express your power than spending money? Or not spending money as the case may be. Another form of New Federalism is devolution, which is the process of giving state and local governments the power to enforce regulations, devolving power from the national to the state level. Finally, some courts have picked up the cause of New Federalism through cases based on the 10th Amendment, which states "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The idea that some powers, like those police powers I talked about before, are reserved by the states, have been used to put something of a brake on the Commerce Clause. So as you can see, where we are with federalism today is kind of complicated. Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton seem to favor New Federalism and block grants. But George W. Bush seemed to push back towards regulated federalism with laws like No Child Left Behind and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. It's pretty safe to say that we're going to continue to live under a regime of cooperative federalism, with a healthy dose of regulation thrown in. But many Americans feel that the national government is too big and expensive and not what the framers wanted. If history is any guide, a system of dual federalism with most of the government in the hands of the states is probably not going to happen. For some reason, it's really difficult to convince institutions to give up powers once they've got them. I'm never giving up this power. Thanks for watching, I'll see you next week. Crash Course Government and Politics is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support for Crash Course US Government comes from Voqal. Voqal supports non-profits that use technology and media to advance social equity. Learn more about their mission and initiatives at Crash Course is made with the help of these nice people. Thanks for watching. You didn't help make this video at all, did you? No. But you did get people to keep watching until the end because you're an adorable dog.



With the exception of Nebraska, all American state legislatures are bicameral, meaning there is one legislative body separated into two units. Nebraska eliminated its lower house with a referendum during the 1936 elections. Also, some systems, such as New York's, have two legislative bodies while never technically referring to them in the state constitution as a single body. These dual systems are generally considered bicameral.

The following table compares common legislative features of each state, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories.

Lower house Upper house Ratio Total
State Legislative branch constitutional name Name Size Term length (years) Term limit Name Size Term length (years) Term limit Filibuster possible Lower to Upper house size Total
California California State Legislature California State Assembly 80 2 Not more than 12 years in either house, combined[4] California State Senate 40 4 Not more than 12 years in either house, combined[4] No 2 120
Texas Texas Legislature Texas House of Representatives 150 2 None Texas Senate 31 2 or 4 None Yes 4.83871 181
New York New York State Legislature New York State Assembly 150 2 None New York State Senate 63 2 None No 2.380952 213
Florida Florida Legislature Florida House of Representatives 120 2 Four terms Florida Senate 40 2 or 4 Two terms Yes 3 160
Illinois Illinois General Assembly Illinois House of Representatives 118 2 None Illinois Senate 59 2 or 4 None No 2 177
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania General Assembly Pennsylvania House of Representatives 203 2 None Pennsylvania State Senate 50 4 None No 4.06 253
Ohio Ohio General Assembly Ohio House of Representatives 99 2 Four terms Ohio Senate 33 4 Two terms No 3 132
Michigan Michigan Legislature Michigan House of Representatives 110 2 Three terms Michigan Senate 38 4 Two terms No 2.894737 148
Georgia Georgia General Assembly Georgia House of Representatives 180 2 None Georgia Senate 56 2 None No 3.214286 236
North Carolina North Carolina General Assembly North Carolina House of Representatives 120 2 None North Carolina Senate 50 2 None No 2.4 170
New Jersey New Jersey Legislature New Jersey General Assembly 80 2 None New Jersey Senate 40 2 or 4 None No 2 120
Virginia Virginia General Assembly Virginia House of Delegates 100 2 None Senate of Virginia 40 4 None No 2.5 140
Washington Washington State Legislature Washington House of Representatives 98 2 None Washington State Senate 49 4 None No 2 147
Arizona Arizona Legislature Arizona House of Representatives 60 2 Four consecutive terms[5] Arizona Senate 30 2 Four consecutive terms[5] No 2 90
Massachusetts General Court of Massachusetts Massachusetts House of Representatives 160 2 None Massachusetts Senate 40 2 None No 4 200
Indiana Indiana General Assembly Indiana House of Representatives 100 2 None Indiana Senate 50 4 None No 2 150
Tennessee Tennessee General Assembly Tennessee House of Representatives 99 2 None Tennessee Senate 33 4 None No 3 132
Missouri Missouri General Assembly Missouri House of Representatives 163 2 Four terms[6] Missouri Senate 34 4 Eight years[6] (Two terms) No 4.794118 197
Maryland Maryland General Assembly Maryland House of Delegates 141 4 None Maryland State Senate 47 4 None No 3 188
Wisconsin Wisconsin Legislature Wisconsin State Assembly 99 2 None Wisconsin Senate 33 4 None No 3 132
Minnesota Minnesota Legislature Minnesota House of Representatives 134 2 None Minnesota Senate 67 2 or 4 None No 2 201
Colorado Colorado General Assembly Colorado House of Representatives 65 2 Four consecutive terms Colorado Senate 35 4 Two consecutive terms No 1.857143 100
Alabama Alabama Legislature Alabama House of Representatives 105 4 None Alabama Senate 35 4 None Yes 3 140
South Carolina South Carolina General Assembly South Carolina House of Representatives 124 2 None South Carolina Senate 46 4 None Yes 2.695652 170
Louisiana Louisiana State Legislature Louisiana House of Representatives 105 4 Three terms Louisiana State Senate 39 4 Three terms No 2.692308 144
Kentucky Kentucky General Assembly Kentucky House of Representatives 100 2 None Kentucky Senate 38 4 None No 2.631579 138
Oregon Oregon Legislative Assembly Oregon House of Representatives 60 2 None[note 1] Oregon State Senate 30 4 None[note 2] No 2 90
Oklahoma Oklahoma Legislature Oklahoma House of Representatives 101 2 Not more than 12 years in either house, combined Oklahoma Senate 48 4 Not more than 12 years in either house, combined No 2.104167 149
Connecticut Connecticut General Assembly Connecticut House of Representatives 151 2 None Connecticut Senate 36 2 None Yes 4.194444 187
Iowa Iowa General Assembly Iowa House of Representatives 100 2 None Iowa Senate 50 4 None No 2 150
Mississippi Mississippi Legislature Mississippi House of Representatives 122 4 None Mississippi State Senate 52 4 None Yes 2.346154 174
Arkansas Arkansas General Assembly Arkansas House of Representatives 100 2 Three terms Arkansas Senate 35 2 or 4 Two 4 year terms Yes 2.857143 135
Kansas Kansas Legislature Kansas House of Representatives 125 2 None Kansas Senate 40 4 None No 3.125 165
Utah Utah State Legislature Utah House of Representatives 75 2 None Utah State Senate 29 4 None Yes 2.586207 104
Nevada Nevada Legislature Nevada Assembly 42 2 Six terms Nevada Senate 21 4 Three terms No 2 63
New Mexico New Mexico Legislature New Mexico House of Representatives 70 2 None New Mexico Senate 42 4 None No 1.666667 112
West Virginia West Virginia Legislature West Virginia House of Delegates 100 2 None West Virginia Senate 34 4 None No 2.941176 134
Nebraska Nebraska Legislature N/A N/A N/A N/A Unicameral and nonpartisan 49 4 Two terms Yes N/A 49
Idaho Idaho Legislature Idaho House of Representatives 70 2 None Idaho Senate 35 2 None Yes 2 105
Maine Maine Legislature Maine House of Representatives 153 2 Four terms Maine Senate 35 2 Four terms Yes 4.371429 188
New Hampshire New Hampshire General Court New Hampshire House of Representatives 400 2 None New Hampshire Senate 24 2 None No 16.66667 424
Hawaii Hawaii State Legislature Hawaii House of Representatives 51 2 None Hawaii Senate 25 4 None Yes 2.04 76
Rhode Island Rhode Island General Assembly Rhode Island House of Representatives 75 2 None Rhode Island Senate 38 2 None No 1.973684 113
Montana Montana State Legislature Montana House of Representatives 100 2 Four terms Montana Senate 50 4 Two terms No 2 150
Delaware Delaware General Assembly Delaware House of Representatives 41 2 None Delaware Senate 21 2 or 4 None No 1.952381 62
South Dakota South Dakota State Legislature South Dakota House of Representatives 70 2 Four terms South Dakota Senate 35 4 Two terms No 2 105
Alaska Alaska Legislature Alaska House of Representatives 40 2 None Alaska Senate 20 4 None Yes 2 60
North Dakota North Dakota Legislative Assembly North Dakota House of Representatives 94 4 None North Dakota Senate 47 4 None No 2 141
Vermont Vermont General Assembly Vermont House of Representatives 150 2 None Vermont Senate 30 2 None Yes 5 180
Wyoming Wyoming Legislature Wyoming House of Representatives 60 2 None Wyoming Senate 30 4 None No 2 90
U.S. Virgin Islands Legislature of the Virgin Islands N/A N/A N/A N/A Unicameral 15 2 None No N/A 15
District of Columbia Council of the District of Columbia N/A N/A N/A N/A Unicameral 13 4 None N/A N/A 13
Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico House of Representatives of Puerto Rico 51 4 None Senate of Puerto Rico 27 4 None No 1.888889 78
Guam Legislature of Guam N/A N/A N/A N/A Unicameral 15 2 None No N/A 15
Northern Mariana Islands Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives 20 2 None Northern Mariana Islands Senate 9 4 None No 2.222222 29
American Samoa American Samoa Fono American Samoa House of Representatives 21 2 None American Samoa Senate 18 4 None No 1.166667 39

Supermajority requirements

While only 13 states have a filibuster, there are often restrictions on the majority a state needs to raise taxes.

Legend   Effective supermajority system   Majority rule (22)   Mixed system
  Effective supermajority system
  Majority rule (22)
  Mixed system
Key State Notes
Alabama The Alabama State Senate allows a filibuster, and has a general three-fifths requirement to enact cloture. A simple majority of 18 is acceptable when dealing with the budget and redistricting.[7]
Arkansas Arkansas, along with Rhode Island, is one of the only states that requires a supermajority to pass a budget. A three-fourths majority is required for appropriations, except for education, highways, and paying down the state debt, which require a simple majority.[8]
California From 1933-2011 there was a two-thirds requirement for general fund appropriations for purposes other than public schools (Const., Art. IV, Sec. 12). Because the Legislature typically passes one main budget bill, the requirement effectively applied to the whole budget bill.[9] There has been a two-thirds requirement for tax increases since Proposition 13 in 1978. In 2010, voters approved Proposition 25, eliminating the 2/3 requirement for the budget, but keeping it for tax increases.


The Governor is the chief executive official in all states. D.C. has a mayor which serves executive functions in the District, although constitutionally it is controlled by Congress.

State Governor term length Governor term limit Lieutenant Governor First in line of succession
Alabama Four years Two consecutive terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Alaska Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Arizona Four years Two consecutive terms[note 3] No Secretary of State
Arkansas Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
California Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Colorado Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Connecticut Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Delaware Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
District of Columbia Mayor: Four years Mayor: None No District of Columbia Council Chairman[10]
Florida Four years Two consecutive terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Georgia Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Hawaii Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Idaho Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Illinois Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Indiana Four years Two terms in a 12-year period[note 4] Yes Lieutenant Governor
Iowa Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Kansas Four years There is no lifetime limit on the number, but one must be out of office for at least one election cycle after serving 2 consecutive terms before being eligible again. Yes Lieutenant Governor
Kentucky Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Louisiana Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Maine Four years Two terms No President of the Senate
Maryland Four years Two consecutive terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Massachusetts Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Michigan Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Minnesota Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Mississippi Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Missouri Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Montana Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Nebraska Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Nevada Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
New Hampshire Two years None No President of the Senate
New Jersey Four years Two terms Yes[note 5] Lieutenant Governor
New Mexico Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
New York Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
North Carolina Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
North Dakota Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Ohio Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Oklahoma Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Oregon Four years Two consecutive terms No Secretary of State
Pennsylvania Four years Two consecutive terms[note 6] Yes Lieutenant Governor
Puerto Rico Four years None No Secretary of State
Rhode Island Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
South Carolina Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
South Dakota Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Tennessee Four years Two terms Yes[note 7] President of the Senate
Texas Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Utah Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Vermont Two years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Virginia Four years No limit on number, but terms cannot be consecutive Yes Lieutenant Governor
Washington Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
West Virginia Four years Two terms Yes[note 8] President of the Senate
Wisconsin Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Wyoming Four years Two terms No Secretary of State

Note: Table does not distinguish between consecutive term limits and total term limits, unless otherwise noted.


State Highest court High court seats High court term High court judicial placement method Mandatory retirement age[note 9]
Alabama Supreme Court of Alabama 9 6 years Partisan election
Alaska Alaska Supreme Court 5 10 years Missouri Plan
Arizona Arizona Supreme Court 7 6 years Missouri Plan 70
Arkansas Arkansas Supreme Court 7 8 years Non-partisan election
California Supreme Court of California 7 12 years Modified Missouri Plan
Colorado Colorado Supreme Court 7 10 years Missouri Plan
Connecticut Connecticut Supreme Court 7 8 years[11] Election by the state legislature 70
Delaware Delaware Supreme Court 5 12 years Appointment by governor
Florida Florida Supreme Court 7 6 years Modified Missouri Plan 70 (or end of current term)
Georgia Supreme Court of Georgia 7 6 years Non-partisan election
Hawaii Supreme Court of Hawaii 5 10 years Appointment by the Governor 70
Idaho Idaho Supreme Court 5 6 years Non-partisan election
Illinois Supreme Court of Illinois 7 10 years Partisan election
Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana 5 10 years[note 10] Missouri Plan 75[note 11]
Iowa Iowa Supreme Court 7 8 years Missouri Plan 72
Kansas Kansas Supreme Court 7 6 years Missouri Plan 70 (or end of current term)
Kentucky Kentucky Supreme Court 7 8 years Non-partisan election
Louisiana Supreme Court of Louisiana 7 10 years Partisan election
Maine Maine Supreme Judicial Court 7 7 years Appointment by the Governor
Maryland Maryland Court of Appeals 7 10 years Appointment by the Governor 70
Massachusetts Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court 7 Lifetime Appointment by the Governor 70
Michigan Michigan Supreme Court 7 8 years Non-partisan election[note 12] Must be under 70 at time of election
Minnesota Minnesota Supreme Court 7 6 years Non-partisan election 70
Mississippi Supreme Court of Mississippi 9 8 years Non-partisan election
Missouri Supreme Court of Missouri 7 12 years Missouri Plan
Montana Montana Supreme Court 7 8 years Non-partisan election
Nebraska Nebraska Supreme Court 7 6 years Missouri Plan
Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada 7 6 years Non-partisan election
New Hampshire New Hampshire Supreme Court 5 Lifetime Appointment by Governor 70
New Jersey New Jersey Supreme Court 7 7 years[12] Appointment by Governor 70
New Mexico New Mexico Supreme Court 5 8 years Partisan election/Retention election
New York New York Court of Appeals 7 14 years Appointed by the Governor 70 (at end of calendar year)
North Carolina North Carolina Supreme Court 7 8 years Non-partisan election
North Dakota North Dakota Supreme Court 5 10 years Non-partisan election
Ohio Ohio Supreme Court 7 6 years Non-partisan election 70 (at end of term)
Oklahoma Oklahoma Supreme Court
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
Supreme Court: 9
Court of Criminal Appeals: 5
6 years (both) Missouri Plan
Oregon Oregon Supreme Court 7 6 years Non-partisan election 75
Pennsylvania Supreme Court of Pennsylvania 7 10 years Partisan election 78
Puerto Rico Supreme Court of Puerto Rico 9 Lifetime Appointment by the Governor with confirmation by the Senate 70
Rhode Island Rhode Island Supreme Court 5 Lifetime[13] Missouri Plan None[13]
South Carolina South Carolina Supreme Court 5 10 years Election by State Legislature 72
South Dakota South Dakota Supreme Court 5 8 years Non-partisan election
Tennessee Tennessee Supreme Court 5 8 years Tennessee Plan (Modified Missouri Plan)
Texas Texas Supreme Court
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
9 (both) 6 years (both) Partisan election 75 (may finish term or 4 years of term, whichever is shorter)
Utah Utah Supreme Court 5 4 years Missouri Plan
Vermont Vermont Supreme Court 5 6 years Election by State Legislature
Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia 7 12 years Election by State Legislature 70[14]
Washington Washington Supreme Court 9 6 years Non-partisan election 75
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia 5 12 years Partisan election
Wisconsin Wisconsin Supreme Court 7 10 years Non-partisan election
Wyoming Wyoming Supreme Court 5 8 years Missouri Plan

Note: Table does not distinguish between term lengths that result in a new election and term lengths that result in a retention vote but not a full election.

See also


  1. ^ State representatives were limited to three terms (6 years) until term limits were repealed by Oregon Ballot Measure 3 (1992).
  2. ^ State senators were limited to two terms (8 years) until term limits were repealed by Oregon Ballot Measure 3 (1992).
  3. ^ Governor may serve unlimited terms but only two in a row.
  4. ^ Governors of Indiana may serve an unlimited number of terms, but may only serve for eight years in any twelve-year period. (Constitution of Indiana Article 5)
  5. ^ Office created in 2005 and implemented in 2009
  6. ^ There are no limits on the number of terms a governor may serve in total as long as there is a four-year break after a second term.
  7. ^ The President of the Senate is also the Lieutenant Governor.
  8. ^ The President of the Senate is also the Lieutenant Governor.
  9. ^ Uncompleted entries do not indicate the lack of a retirement age, only a lack of data in this article. States without a mandatory retirement age will indicate "None".
  10. ^ Retention election held after two years of service. Mandatory retirement at age 75.
  11. ^ The Indiana retirement age is the same regardless of the length of the Justice's remaining term.
  12. ^ While Michigan law stipulates that State Supreme Court judges be listed on the "non-partisan" section on the ballot, only candidates who have been nominated by political parties with ballot access at their respective state conventions are allowed to stand in the succeeding general election. Subsequently, each party is only allowed to nominate as many candidates as there are supreme court seats up for election in a given year.


  1. ^ Natelson, Robert G. "Essays on Article IV: Guarantee Clause". The Heritage Foundation.
  2. ^ "State & Local Government". The White House.
  3. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About the Minnesota Legislature". Minnesota State Legislature.
  4. ^ a b The new limit was decided by referendum as Proposition 28, on June 2012. Between 1990 to that date, one could serve 3 terms in the House and 2 in the Senate, which means the new limit is globally earlier but roughly doubles in each body.
  5. ^ a b Arizona Constitution, Art. 4, Part 2, Sec. 21
  6. ^ a b Missouri Constitution, Art. III, Sec. 8
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-07. Retrieved 2013-06-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^, Connecticut Supreme Court, found here.
  12. ^ Refers to initial "probation" period. If the governor reappoints them (almost universally true) they then serve for life
  13. ^ a b Linda Greenhouse, "The Case for Term Limits on the Supreme Court with Linda Greenhouse", Yale Political Union, May 28, 2009, [1]
  14. ^ Aaron Applegate, Mike Saewitz, "Bill seeks to raise mandatory retirement age for judges to 73", The Virginian-Pilot, February 4, 2010, [2]


This page was last edited on 5 April 2019, at 19:27
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