What happens if the president-elect dies before taking office?
January 31, 2008 3:17 PM   Subscribe

What happens if the president-elect dies before taking office?

Does the VP-elect get sworn in as president on 20 Jan.? Does he get sworn in as VP, and then as president, since otherwise he's not in the order of succession? Can he be sworn in at all?

This was touched on a bit in a previous AskMe, but that one focused on a re-elected president (and VP) dying before his second term begins, which means that there is no acting president immediately and thus normal order of succession rules apply before Inauguration Day— I'm more wondering about the specifics of what the VP-elect would go through to succeed the president-elect, or if that would even happen since he isn't technically in the order of succession at the time of the pres-elect's death.
posted by shakespeherian to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The 20th Amendment deals with this possibility. The VP-elect would be sworn in as President.
posted by grouse at 3:24 PM on January 31, 2008


Section 3 of the 20th Amendment:

Section 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
posted by vacapinta at 3:24 PM on January 31, 2008


what happens if the nominee dies post convention but before the election?
posted by alkupe at 3:25 PM on January 31, 2008


"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. The section also provides that if, on Inauguration Day, a president has not been chosen or the President-elect does not qualify for the presidency, the Vice President acts as president until a president is chosen or the President-elect qualifies. Finally, Section 3 allows the Congress to provide by law for cases in which neither a President-elect nor a Vice President-elect is eligible or available to serve."*
posted by ericb at 3:26 PM on January 31, 2008


What grouse and vacapinta said!
posted by ericb at 3:26 PM on January 31, 2008


ericb: That quote is odd. Why paraphrase something only to have it be the same length?
posted by vacapinta at 3:27 PM on January 31, 2008


Well that was easy.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:29 PM on January 31, 2008


ericb: That quote is odd. Why paraphrase something only to have it be the same length?

I suspect that the author of those words was doing so to provide language more direct/understandable (?) to others who might not necessarily parse the constitutional language(?) I dunno.
posted by ericb at 3:34 PM on January 31, 2008


The People's Choice by Jeff Greenfield deals with this.
posted by likedoomsday at 3:47 PM on January 31, 2008


Two questions are getting mixed together, since our method of electing a President is so......odd.

First, the public votes. In the US, we don't actually vote for the President, we vote for the members of the Electoral College. That will happen on November 4th this year.

Then, come December 20th, the Electoral College meets, and elects a President.

Then, on January 20th the President gets sworn in.

Technically, we don't have a President Elect until December 20th. As others have said, should (or she!) die after December 20th, the US Constitution is clear: the Vice President will take the oath on January 20th.

But should he (or she!) die between November 4th & December 20th, well, no one knows what will happen. The laws governing the actions of the electors are vague at best, and differ from State to State. This case, BTW, is what Greenberg's novel deals with.
posted by FfejL at 5:41 PM on January 31, 2008


what happens if the nominee dies post convention but before the election?

The powers that be in the party would pick another candidate to replace him. That hasn't happened in any Presidential campaign that I've ever heard of, but it's happened at the state level for Senator and Representative contests.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:08 PM on January 31, 2008


Why paraphrase something only to have it be the same length?

Because Wikipedia has plagiarism nazis, even if taken from a copyright-free source.

what happens if the nominee dies post convention but before the election?

It depends on state law, and whether the date for changing the slate has passed. In the cases Steven mentions, there is a media blitz letting people know that they are voting for e.g. Mel Carnahan but electing Jean (although this also seemed to depend on the goodwill of the Governor).

Parts of the 20th Amendment remain in practical effect, but the 25th Amendment probably covers all really conceivable loopholes (though I'm sure someone could make some up). No amendments, for example, really prepared us for Bush v. Gore. That is, I suspect any problem of this ilk is going to be decided in the Supreme Court regardless of all the hassle of writing and passing those amendments.
posted by dhartung at 12:36 AM on February 1, 2008


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