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VanBantam's avatar

Question concerning presidential succesion?

Asked by VanBantam (158 points ) September 21st, 2008

Ok first things first: please check your politics at the door.
Let say one of the two major party candidates is elected to president this November. God forbid, Let say before they are sworn in they are assassinated. Who would be next in line?
Related to this is what makes a person president? The act of being elected? Is swearing in the new president more then just a ceremony?

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10 Answers

JackAdams's avatar

If the assassination occurs * BEFORE* the President-elect is sworn in, then no succession can occur, simply because it can only happen to a sitting President, not a pending one.

Personal opinion, of course. I’m not quoting any facts.

tinyfaery's avatar

I assume Cheney would take over until January.

VanBantam's avatar

Clarrification: the president elect is assassinated.

fireside's avatar

I would guess that a special election would have to be held in order to establish the new President elect. I agree that succession would probably only take place after the oath of office, but I don’t really know.

jasonjackson's avatar

According to the Wikipedia article on presidental succession: “Section 3 of the 20th Amendment provides that if the President-elect dies before his or her term begins, the Vice President-elect becomes President on Inauguration Day and serves for the full term to which the President-elect was elected.” You can also read the text of the 20th amendment itself on Wikipedia.

In other words, if Obama or McCain is elected and then assassinated, Biden or Palin (respectively) will serve the entire 4-year term in his place.

I didn’t know the answer to your second question until I researched it just now, but I found that on Wikipedia too: “At exactly 12:00 noon, on January 20 following a presidential election year, the term of office of the President expires by Constitutional mandate, and the President-elect becomes the President of the United States. ... The formal oath of office does not affect the automatic accession to and occupation of the office of the presidency, which, in the case of the U.S. President, proceeds, ipso facto, from the expiration of the predecessor’s term.”

In short: yep, the swearing-in ceremony is just a ceremony.

JackAdams's avatar

@jasonjackson: Where were you, when I needed someone to do my American History homework for me?

I would have paid as much as $5!

lefteh's avatar

Jasonjackson has it. The vice president-elect would become president at noon on the 20th. However, a rather sticky situation would arise if the president-elect died before January 6th, which is when the votes are officially counted in Congress and the presidential and vice presidential candidates officially become the president- and vice president-elect in the eyes of the law. It would then most likely either go to the Supreme Court, who would then rule the vice president-elect president based on loose interpretation of the 20th amendment, or it would go to the House of Representatives, seeing as there would be no majority in electoral college votes. They would then choose the vice president-elect (technically they could choose somebody else, but it would never happen due to lasting political repercussions).

jvgr's avatar

So the moral of this story is:
Anyone with aspirations to become a famous assassin and decides McCain is a good candidate they had better achieve their goals before the vote.

apye's avatar

another question, how is the vice president chosen in the event the vice president elect becomes the president? Thank you!

lefteh's avatar

The new president may nominate whomever he or she chooses. This person must then be confirmed by simple majority votes of both houses of Congress.

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