Billary '08?
January 30, 2008 11:41 PM   Subscribe

Settle-a-bet-filter: Lets say that Hillary wins the primaries; would it be legal for Bill to run as her vice president? And how likely is this to occur?
posted by jytsai to Law & Government (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Previously.
posted by one_bean at 11:48 PM on January 30, 2008

Best answer: Despite SCDB's confident answer in the previous thread, the issue is far from clear. This Washington Post article does a good job of summarizing the arguments for and against.
posted by vacapinta at 11:53 PM on January 30, 2008

that's funny I've always thought it was 10 years or two terms, but as I read the 22nd amendment closely it really is just that they can't be elected again. Such minor language distinctions, such major political implications.
posted by nangua at 1:21 AM on January 31, 2008

As to likeliness -- you're kidding, right? There isn't a chance in hell that Bill would run as her Vice President. It's a crap job that few politicians want to take on unless they have their eye on running in the future, and besides, having a Clinton/Clinton ticket would be a sure-fire way to make sure she'd never get elected. He'd overshadow her, overpower everyone else in the election, and it would be a nightmare from a campaign perspective. Vice Presidential candidates are usually selected on the basis of how they can benefit the ticket -- if you're lacking in values voters, you might select a deeply religious Jew, if you need a few more electoral votes from the South, you'll pick a Senator from South Carolina, if you're trying to court the Latino vote, you could select a Governor from a southwestern state (hint hint) who happens to be Latino himself. Clinton isn't lacking in the voters who would be attracted to a Clinton squared ticket, obviously, because those people are Clinton supporters. So adding Bill to the ticket wouldn't gain her a thing. I'll let the rest discuss the legality, but possibility is very clearly nil.
posted by incessant at 1:45 AM on January 31, 2008

Seconding, on likelihood, the "no way in hell" opinion. The function of a Vice President is essentially to be there, look pretty, offer advice and help promote and implement the President's policies. In an unofficial way, Hillary has all that from Bill already-- just as she, at times, was said to have done for him as First Lady. As incessant said, having another Clinton on the ticket wouldn't gain HRC any votes.

(Plus, can you imagine the number of "Vice president, heh heh heh" jokes?)
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:43 AM on January 31, 2008

And how likely is this to occur?

Logistically, probably unlikely, due to the legal issues involved that would drag her campaign down.

Philosophically, however, were Bill to be elected as VP, some might say he would be Hillary's "insurance policy", much as Cheney indirectly protects Bush.

No one wants Cheney promoted to the presidency, who hates Bush, and no one would want Bill promoted, who hates Hillary. As a pure Machiavellian tactic, her choosing Bill as her running mate and future VP would make tactical sense, were she to win the general election.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:43 AM on January 31, 2008

I thought there was also a constitutional rule that the President and Vice President can't be from the same state, but I can't find it.

It's totally unlikely, of course. But I agree that it is not completely clear that he's ineligible. Suppose, for example, Hillary wanted to appoint Bill to a cabinet post. Or suppose he got elected to the House of Representatives (like John Q. Adams was after his presidency), and ran for Speaker of the House. Either way, this would put him into the line of succession for the presidency. Would he not be able to accept a cabinet appointment, or run for Speaker, on the basis that he's ineligible to be president again? And, if the answer is that a cabinet post or speakership would be OK, then why not vice president? I think he can do any of the above, on the basis (laid out in the above-linked WaPo article) that he can not be "elected" president again, having been elected twice, but that does not preclude him from regaining the presidency via succession.
posted by beagle at 5:50 AM on January 31, 2008

No one wants Cheney promoted to the presidency, who hates Bush, and no one would want Bill promoted, who hates Hillary. As a pure Machiavellian tactic, her choosing Bill as her running mate and future VP would make tactical sense, were she to win the general election.

Given our relatively low rate of assassination in the United States, is this really a legitimate concern?

That, and weren't people convinced that Hillary was running the show the first time around? Hell, she's even claiming it as experience now.
posted by explosion at 6:16 AM on January 31, 2008

Given our relatively low rate of assassination in the United States, is this really a legitimate concern?

I suspect most attempts are probably halted before we even know about them, so a rate assessment is impossible with as little information as we have.

Nonetheless, there are other methods for Republicans to disrupt a hypothetical Hillary presidency and cause succession. In particular, they could attempt to subvert the daily workings of the House and Senate to lead impeachment proceedings against her, just as they did during Bill's second term.

The question then would be, would the GOP want Bill to succeed Hillary. Most Hillary-haters hate Bill more than Hillary.

In any case, while the law seems to allow contradictory interpretations, it's clear that:

1. Hillary would have to run a campaign that would require Supreme Court intervention, which costs time and money from running campaign ads and making appearances
2. Her Republican opponent would have ample fodder to play the usual GOP smear games
3. Our Bush-whacked Supreme Court would not render a majority decision in her favor, in any case

It just doesn't seem likely, but the possibility is intriguing from a political standpoint. Bill's connections as VP would open a number of "back doors" for diplomacy and, otherwise, being in the "game". I'm sure he'd jump at the opportunity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:34 AM on January 31, 2008

It's so unlikely as to not even discuss that aspect.

As for the constitutionality of a back-door third term, there are numerous discussions online, some of which have arleady been mentioned above. In sum, it's never been litigated, so we don't know. There are some technical legal arguments that say he could run as vice-president, but they are fewer and weaker than those saying he could not. Even an incredibly biased Court would have a hard time allowing this.

The "from two states" requirement does exist, but also has never been defined or litigated. It's assumed to be a very easy hurdle to jump, though. Cheney, for example, owns land in Texas and has lived there in the past. I suspect this would be a nonissue (and if it were, he could just move somewhere else).

Regarding the line of succession, many foreign-born (and thus constitutionally ineligible) people have held cabinet positions before (including Kissinger, Albright, and Chao). It has always been assumed that in a disaster they would be passed over in the succession line because of this. The primary duty of these positions (as well as Speaker and Pres. Pro Tem) are not to succeed the President. Succeeding the President is one of only two duties the VP has, though. This is the type of thing any Court would distinguish.

It may be a fun thought experiment to work through and imagine, so I don't fault the WaPo writer for taking it to ridiculous lengths, but it's his job to explore the most ridiculous possibilities and make them seem more possible and reasonable.
posted by aswego at 6:58 AM on January 31, 2008

This question has not been addressed, so there is no answer. Arguments for, the plain language of the amendment does not expressly prohibit a former vice president from running.

Arguments against, the fact that the only official duty of the vice president is to act as president should the president die or become incapacitated, so that it is implied that the VP must not be a term-limited former president.

Likely the question will depend on the intent of the framers of the 22nd amendment. It is their intent which governs in this particular case.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:14 AM on January 31, 2008

I think she'd be more likely to have Chelsea as a running mate that Bill.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:15 AM on January 31, 2008

Given our relatively low rate of assassination in the United States

Out of 43 US presidents (really 42, since Grover Cleveland is counted twice), spanning 219 years, 4 have been assassinated. There have also been 5 unsuccessful attempts (that we're aware of).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:17 AM on January 31, 2008

is this really a legitimate concern?

Regardless of the rate of assassinations, it's clear that VP selection can be strategic in morbid ways. In John Ehrlichmann's memoirs, he recalls Richard Nixon having remarked about his VP choice, "No assassin in his right mind would kill me. They know if they did that they would wind up with Agnew!"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:33 AM on January 31, 2008

The basic summary of the legal analysis that I've seen basically comes down to this: no statute, constitutional provision, or Supreme Court opinion currently forbids it.

That said, most agree that it's highly unlikely that the Court would allow it. On the off chance that they did allow a past two-term president to get elected VP, they might well throw in the caveat that under no circumstances shall he/she assume the presidency.

The strongest argument against those who say it's currently not allowed (aside from the lack of authorities against it) is that the presidential succession chain is fairly long, and the logical extension of not allowing a past two-term president to be VP is that that person also shouldn't be allowed to run for (or attain) any other position that could -- even in a bizarrely remote situation -- provide a path to the White House... and that seems unlikely and overly broad.

That all said, I'd nth the suggestion that this is just never going to be litigated.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:37 AM on January 31, 2008

What there IS precedent for is Hillary (as President) nominating Bill to the Supreme Court (when JP Stevens kicks it). William Howard Taft was appointed Chief Justice after his presidency. I'm wondering if Barack and Edwards would take cabinet roles in a Hillary white house, but I doubt Hillary would want to in an Obama presidency.
posted by mattbucher at 7:41 AM on January 31, 2008

I'd nth the suggestion that this is just never going to be litigated

There won't be a Hillary-Bill ticket, obviously. But there certainly could be a test case in the future if a young president serves one or two terms, has no political baggage and lots of charisma, and then gets picked as Veep a couple of cycles down the road by someone who is not their spouse.
posted by beagle at 8:24 AM on January 31, 2008

Best answer: I thought there was also a constitutional rule that the President and Vice President can't be from the same state
From the 12th Amendment (Article 2, Section 1 had much the same language)-
"The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves;..."

This means that if Bill & Hillary were deemed to be inhabitants of New York State, none of the electors from New York could vote for both of them. (This is reportedly why Cheney changed his residency from Texas to Wyoming). Electors from other states could still vote for them, but who would want to pass on New York's electoral votes?

And I have no idea what would happen if electors voted for one of them but not the other.
posted by MtDewd at 11:06 AM on January 31, 2008

The 25th amendment says, "... no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States."

And the 22nd says, "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice,"

Bill Clinton is ineligible to be president, therefore he's ineligible to be Veep.
posted by gjc at 7:08 PM on January 31, 2008

That's not what the articles say.
The amendment says he can't be 'elected'. It doesn't say he can't serve.
They also say he is 'eligible', which means he is native born and over 35.
posted by MtDewd at 3:47 AM on February 1, 2008

« Older GradSchoolFilter: I know I can... but I can't.   |   Getting from Fiumicino to Ciampino Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.