The Constitutional Politics of Presidential Succession
80 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2010 Last revised: 16 Sep 2017
Date Written: August 25, 2011
The current line of presidential succession is no safer than playing presidential roulette. It imprudently privileges politics and tradition over competence and leadership. We should rethink the rules that currently govern succession to the Presidency – legal and constitutional rules that, in my view, serve the wrong institutional and political interests. The task I have given myself in these pages is to propose and defend an alternative to the current presidential succession regime: revising the order of succession to insert former living presidents – in reverse chronological order of service beginning with former presidents of the same party as the unavailable president – into the line of succession and concurrently removing the House Speaker and the Senate President pro tempore from the line of succession. Temporary presidential succession is a promising alternative to the current succession regime for several reasons that I endeavor to justify. Yet even if readers disagree with my proposed alternative to the current line of presidential succession, the larger purpose of my project nevertheless remains achievable: to probe the values that currently shape presidential succession and to invite reflection about whether they are the right ones for our time.
Keywords: Presidential Succession, Presidency, Vice Presidency, Constitution, Constitutional Law, Speaker of the House, Senate President Pro Tempore, Cabinet
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