What Is the Order of Succession For the Office of President?

What Is the Order of Succession For the Office of President?

(HorizonPost.com) – The United States of America is fast approaching what may be the most decisive — and divisive — presidential election in her history. The ideological chasm between conservatism and liberalism is as wide as it’s ever been, which makes it all the more important to look deeper and understand what might take place if something were to happen to the 2020 winner.

Origins of the Law

As it was originally written, the Constitution was silent on the order of succession, except to say that the Vice President would be the one to take over should the sitting President become unable to discharge the duties of the office. When a situation like this occurs, it’s up to the Legislative branch to fill in the blanks.

The country now operates under the United States Presidential Succession Act of 1947, which was put in place after Harry Turman ascended to the office when Franklin Roosevelt died. The new president realized that, if he should somehow become unable to fulfill his obligations, a constitutional crisis could result and he urged Congress to settle the issue.

Where the Baton Passes

The vice president is still the first one to automatically assume office when necessary. The next two prospects are also elected officials, first is the Speaker of the House and then the President Pro Tempore of the Senate (that is to say, the second-ranking member of the majority party).

The official reason for choosing these two was because they had gone through an election process and therefore had the support of at least the people in their districts. One theory on why the speaker was given the primary position as shown on the United States Senate website is that President Turman had developed a personal friendship with Representative Sam Rayburn who held the position at the time.

The law establishes that the members of the presidential cabinet, as long as they meet all requirements in the Constitution to hold the office, follow in this order: “the Secretary of [department name]…”

  • State
  • Treasury
  • Justice — a.k.a. the Attorney General
  • The Interior
  • Agriculture
  • Commerce
  • Labor
  • Health and Human Services
  • Housing and Urban Development
  • Transportation
  • Energy
  • Education
  • Veteran Affairs
  • Homeland Security

One of the biggest concerns in this category is the State of the Union address the President gives annually in front of both houses of Congress and the nine justices of the Supreme Court. In order to maintain the continuity of government for the country, one person on that list is deemed to be the “designated survivor” and is taken to a secure location so a single disaster cannot leave the country without a president.

Does Age Matter?

Some have expressed concern that many of our more recent political candidates have been in their 60s and 70s. While age alone is absolutely no indicator of ability, deteriorating physical health and fears of declining cognitive ability do sometimes concern the public.

These fears, whether unfounded or not, make the selection of running mates incredibly important as well. A qualified, younger running mate may not face the same age bias as their counterparts.

This may make the task of selecting which pair to cast one’s vote for harder because of the possibility that whoever ends up as the next VP may be called upon to fill out a good chunk of the term of office in the number-one spot. That’s why each American should carefully examine all four before blindly checking off “Republican” or “Democrat” when the time comes.

Copyright 2020, HorizonPost.com