Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2402 Succession

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

To clear up a misconception, yes, the Constitution lists succession to the presidency, and yes, the Speaker of the House is listed as third in line. However, this does not mean that if the president dies, and then a few days or months later the vice-president dies, that Nancy Pelosi becomes president.

The constitutional line-up is followed only if the president and vice-president both are incapacitated at or about the same time.

If the president is killed, one of the first duties of the vice-president after being sworn in as president is to appoint a new vice-president. That new vice-president is now the second in line. If something then happens to the new president, the appointed vice-president succeeds and appoints a new vice-president. So it's possible to end up with a president and a vice-president neither of whom were ever elected to any office.


The above explanation seemed necessary because of Elizabeth of The View getting all het up over Nancy Pelosi's claims that she had been misinformed by the CIA about torture. Elizabeth says that Nancy should resign as Speaker of the House, on the grounds that she's third in succession, and is now incapable of governing because she's lost credibility. (Duh, Elizabeth, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't we have a recent president with no credibility, whom you thought was doing just fine?)

Anyway, "third in line" isn't as close as Elizabeth seemed to think (especially if the president and vice-president can put in place a kind of "living will", naming successors should something happen to them or to each other. That's not the kind of thing you don't consider until it happens).


the Gypsy said...

It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant and short-sighted public figures can be. Especially some of these daytime TV and radio talk show hosts who have immense influence over the sheeple of this country.

Becs said...

Third in has quite a different meaning to Prince Edward now since young Harry came along...