Time to get rid of the Vice Presidency?

posted at 4:01 pm on May 31, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

To be honest, of all the constitutional questions which pop up from time to time, this is one that I never saw coming. We’ve seen calls for a new Constitutional Convention (where God only knows what could happen) to undoing the 17th Amendment to former SCOTUS justices wanting to entirely rewrite the Second Amendment. None of these are terribly surprising and some are certainly worth a national conversation. (Okay.. not so much the last one.) But this week, Seth Mandel at Commentary and Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway engage in seemingly serious proposal which would involve a fundamental change to the nation’s constitutional structure: getting rid of the office of the Vice President.

First Mandel:

What’s frustrating about the evolution of the vice presidency is that it was not only predictable but predicted. All throughout American history politicians and commentators offered nothing toward the office but acid and pity. (Schlesinger’s own article begins: “We have a Vice President again, and Mr. Ford deserves all our sympathy.”)
(…)
So who would replace the vice president in the line of automatic succession? Anyone else would possess less electoral legitimacy than the current vice president unless it was a leader of one of the houses of Congress, in which case upon presidential vacancy the high office could switch parties without an election, an outcome that should be avoided.

Mataconis grants that the modern version of the Vice Presidency seems silly to a certain degree, but then goes on to point out there are still important – though limited – functions to the office, and that historically it has played an important role. He summarizes thusly.

Finally, it doesn’t strike me that the Vice-Presidency, or the selection of a Vice-Presidential running mate during the course of a Presidential campaign pose a big enough distraction for American politics to justify the kind of serious Constitutional change that eliminating the office would require. If there were no Vice-President, then we’d have to come up with some new rules about Presidential succession, for example. As long as there are an even number of states, we’d have to figure out how to deal with the possibility of tie votes in the Senate. Both of these would require detailed Amendments to the Constitution that would be, at best, in terms of their effectiveness. On the downside, there are very few examples in history that one can point to of Vice-Presidents that were actually harmful.

With some exceptions I have to agree with the latter argument. Sure, with a guy like Biden residing at the U.S. Naval Observatory it’s easy to say that there’s not much point in writing that particular paycheck every month. But as Doug points out, the office does still fulfill some rather critical functions, albeit ones which are rarely called into play. Careful whip counts ensure that a tie in the Senate is nearly as rare as Chris Matthews saying something sensible, but it can still happen and the President Pro Tempore has to be available to break that tie. Looming much larger is the fact that Presidents are human beings, and sometimes they die. While I disagree with Mandel about the possibility of changing the party in power during such an ascension being a thing to be avoided, it would still require a major national push to come up with an acceptable method of naming the replacement which would make it through the amendment process.

Also, I think it’s unfair to summarily dismiss the the importance and power of the office out of hand. Yes, Joe Biden seems to harken back to a time when the veep was used for little more than “weddings and funerals” which the POTUS didn’t want to attend. But that seems to be more the exception than any sort of rule defining the office as not being as valuable as a bucket of warm spit. While any concrete policy action taken by the veep still needs the official imprimatur of the boss, it’s difficult to argue that even recent VPs have commanded considerable power. Dick Cheney was arguably one of the most powerful Vice Presidents in American History, with enormous discretion in matters of both military action and domestic energy policy. George H.W. Bush was widely known to be an essentially free agent in many aspects of national security and covert operations. And Al Gore was … er… well, inventing the internet ain’t just chopped liver.

Even if the popular will existed to get rid of the office, I think Doug is right. It would just be far more trouble than it was worth. And we do need the ability to immediately, formally and completely change the hand on the tiller in the event of a sudden national crisis like the loss of the President. Waiting around for some special election with a caretaker in charge or for wrangling between political parties would be disastrous. If you elect a President, you just take the veep as part of a package deal.


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What about gravitas?

Murphy9 on May 31, 2014 at 4:05 PM

So who would replace the vice president in the line of automatic succession?

While generally useless, the VP is important to succession. And fwiw somebody has to break ties in the senate.

mankai on May 31, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Literally get rid of the office? Literally?

Thoughtful article, JS, and I agree with Doug’s and your conclusion. But after the Friday news dumps this is all that’s left to talk about? Maybe we’re all exhausted by this presidency.

de rigueur on May 31, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Boehner is pretty useless too.

Any way to get rid of him?

And since Congress isn’t actually doing its job maybe they should be gotten rid off as well?

You know if all the dead wood was cleared out of government there wouldn’t actually be much left?

sharrukin on May 31, 2014 at 4:09 PM

I’d have much more respect for Joe Biden if he would march into the Senate and tell Harry Reid to sit down and shut up.

meci on May 31, 2014 at 4:11 PM

As long as there are an even number of states, we’d have to figure out how to deal with the possibility of tie votes in the Senate.

Works with an odd number of states as well. 49 states times two senators per equals 98 senators. Could be 49 to 49.

rbj on May 31, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Vice President? Vice President?

vnvet on May 31, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Where would well-known Rats go to be their party’s nominee for President? For that matter, where will Republicans who aren’t descendents of past Presidents and who don’t want to slog through multiple campaigns go to be their party’s nominee for President?

Seriously, even though we wouldn’t get it from Biden, Harry Reid needs adult supervision in the Senate, and the Vice President is the one Constitutionally-charged with providing that.

Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 4:27 PM

While I disagree with Mandel about the possibility of changing the party in power during such an ascension being a thing to be avoided…

As I recall that only happened once in our history–when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and Andrew Johnson assumed the presidency.

Oh, and you spelled POUTS wrong…

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:27 PM

As long as there are an even number of states, we’d have to figure out how to deal with the possibility of tie votes in the Senate.

Oh, Jazz…any number multiplied by two yields an even number. What will you do? Increase or decrease the number of Senators for state representation?

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Oh, Jazz…any number multiplied by two yields an even number. What will you do? Increase or decrease the number of Senators for state representation?

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:30 PM

That was Doug Mataconis’ argument, not Jazz’s.

Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Biden is so stunningly unpresidential (and the bar is set low, low, low right now) that people would prefer a constitutional crisis over him being elevated to president should Dumbo be incapacitated (how could we tell?).

Now, THATS a legacy!

Tard on May 31, 2014 at 4:33 PM

It’s pretty hard to take someone seriously when they haven’t bothered to figure out that any number of states could result in a tie vote. Does not give me confidence that the proposal
Is well thought out.

boone on May 31, 2014 at 4:34 PM

While I certainly support getting rid of THIS vice president (although it was pointed out to me by someone else commenting at HotAir that this one would not do worse than the current president and would be a lot funnier to watch), I simply abhor all of these suggestions for changing the constitution. The dems are trying to suppress free speech in this manner – they will get nowhere with it but even the suggestion is creepy.

As we saw with the 18th amendment, this sort of tinkering leads to no good unless there is an overwhelming need (e.g., 14th amendment).

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Ha! Good catch.

Chuck Ef on May 31, 2014 at 4:35 PM

As long as there are an even number of states, we’d have to figure out how to deal with the possibility of tie votes in the Senate.

Oh, Jazz Doug…any number multiplied by two yields an even number. What will you do? Increase or decrease the number of Senators for state representation?
Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:30 PM

h/t Steve for the correction; correction duly performed and noted!

Much appreciated, Steve!

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:37 PM

IMO, GWB/Cheney showed how the relationship between President and VEEP should work. Cheney made it clear that he had no interest in getting the top job and spent the eight years giving advice and working with the President even though there were times and issues where they disagreed.

Conversely, Obama/Biden show the absurdity of the VP position. Biden was only picked for the job because Obama was literally citing his college classes in foreign policy as why he had the experience to run the nation’s foreign affairs. Biden who, for reasons only known to Biden, fancies himself some kind of genius when it comes to diplomacy. He was put on the ticket for the g word- gravitas.

I think we need a VP but a change to change the law so that the VP may not be elected President immediately after his/her/its term of office. This would weed out ambitious folks like Gore who used the job to set themselves up as the “obvious” choice for the next open election.

I also think that VA has it right in that governors are one term and out. They can run for a second term but it can’t be consecutive. I’d like to see the same for the Presidency where every election is an open election.

Happy Nomad on May 31, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Works with an odd number of states as well. 49 states times two senators per equals 98 senators. Could be 49 to 49.

rbj on May 31, 2014 at 4:13 PM

That occurred to me as well, not to mention that were there only one Senator/state and an odd number of states — you could still have some clown in there who always votes “Present” …

ShainS on May 31, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Ultimate insider baseball here.

I can imagine very few political subjects of less interest to the ordinary voter, or of less immediacy in terms of a national discussion.

But hey… if you can’t figure out that 2 senators x any number of states = an even number, then perhaps the choice of subject matter becomes moot.

Dolce Far Niente on May 31, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Changing the Constitution without any good and compelling reason is idiotic…as is the suggestion that we eliminate the vice president

georgealbert on May 31, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Works with an odd number of states as well. 49 states times two senators per equals 98 senators. Could be 49 to 49.

rbj on May 31, 2014 at 4:13 PM

That occurred to me as well, not to mention that were there only one Senator/state and an odd number of states — you could still have some clown in there who always votes “Present” …

ShainS on May 31, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Oh! BTW, let’s get rid of the 17th Amendment. The Senators should be representatives in DC of the entire state with the state legislatures as electors. Here in VA, the Senators would not be the same as those popularly elected and would give a stronger voice to those in the Commonwealth who do not live in Northern VA, Richmond, and the Tidewater region.

Happy Nomad on May 31, 2014 at 4:52 PM

I think we need a VP but a change to change the law so that the VP may not be elected President immediately after his/her/its term of office. This would weed out ambitious folks like Gore who used the job to set themselves up as the “obvious” choice for the next open election.

Happy Nomad on May 31, 2014 at 4:39 PM

The 3d, 4th, 5th and 6th Presidents had also served as Sec of State.

*gasp!* You don’t REALLY want Hillary that badly, do you? :P

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:52 PM

As for the succession question, leaving nothing but the President’s heartbeat between the legislative and executive branches (or even involving Congress in the Presidential line of succession) is a bad idea. At that point, why not simply declare that whoever controlls Congress controls the Presidency?

Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Happy Nomad on May 31, 2014 at 4:52 PM

I SO agree with that, HN! The states are not represented at all any more in Congress–and that surely puts the kibosh on the ability to reject out of hand those “mandates” Congress has passed.

Oh, and just WHOSE interests does the Senate (for the most part, anyway) represent?? Surely not the states and definitely not the people…

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:55 PM

At that point, why not simply declare that whoever controlls Congress controls the Presidency?
Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Because, like it is now, different parties control each chamber of the legislature. Things might be brought to a crawl (OK…standstill) if the different Houses have to fight it out over who succeeds as POTUS. Personally, I shudder of who would’ve been selected if’n something had happened to zero prior to 2010 and Dinghy Harry and Nasty Pelosi had to fight it out over who would’ve succeeded His Royal Pomposity…

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:55 PM

They are at best at-large congressmen more distantly removed from the people than they were before the 17th Amendment.

Akzed on May 31, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Ironically enough.

Akzed on May 31, 2014 at 5:01 PM

I SO agree with that, HN! The states are not represented at all any more in Congress–and that surely puts the kibosh on the ability to reject out of hand those “mandates” Congress has passed.

Oh, and just WHOSE interests does the Senate (for the most part, anyway) represent?? Surely not the states and definitely not the people…

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:55 PM

They represent the bipartisan Party-In-Government’s interests.

The bad news about returning to state legislatures running the Senate is, with the amount of Other People’s Money (pronounce it “opium”, just like the drug) flowing through DC, the states will demand and get a vastly larger amount of OPM through even higher federal taxes and borrowing.

Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 5:02 PM

make the loser of the presidential election the vp.
or count the spouses as vp as way too many of them are involved in policy.

dmacleo on May 31, 2014 at 5:04 PM

The bad news about returning to state legislatures running the Senate is, with the amount of Other People’s Money (pronounce it “opium”, just like the drug) flowing through DC, the states will demand and get a vastly larger amount of OPM through even higher federal taxes and borrowing.
Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 5:02 PM

I have my doubts about that, Steve. With the individual states (back to) having a say in how monies are spent by the Central Government, it could very well dry up much of the socialist utopia agenda in such states as CA, NY and MA because other states like WY, TX and FL would vote against such “freebies” and “bailouts.” It could also work to getting the states from being buried under such foolishness as the Mandates for Monies programs by NOT having those programs legislated in the first place, as the Senators would have to vote according to their states wishes (ideally).

Besides, those Senators who vote against their states’ wishes/interests would be much easier recalled than now.

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Careful whip counts ensure that a tie in the Senate is nearly as rare as Chris Matthews saying something sensible, but it can still happen and the President Pro Tempore has to be available to break that tie.

The VP is the President of the Senate, not the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. The latter position is currently held by Patrick Leahy.

J.S.K. on May 31, 2014 at 5:09 PM

The VP is the President of the Senate, not the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. The latter position is currently held by Patrick Leahy.
J.S.K. on May 31, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Nice catch.

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Second look at The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union?

/Obviously that wasn’t working either, but too bad the misnamed “Anti-Federalists” (after the so-called “Federalists” misappropriated that name — kind of like “Liberal” today) didn’t win out in the beginning …

ShainS on May 31, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Joe Biden ruins everything. He is why we can’t have nice things…

Fallon on May 31, 2014 at 5:16 PM

I SO agree with that, HN! The states are not represented at all any more in Congress–and that surely puts the kibosh on the ability to reject out of hand those “mandates” Congress has passed.

Oh, and just WHOSE interests does the Senate (for the most part, anyway) represent?? Surely not the states and definitely not the people…

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:55 PM

IMO, The Senate needs to be the agent of the states. The legislatures don’t have a voice in the federal legislative process. Senators since passage of the 17th Amendment are merely prom kings and queens.

We need to get back to the idea that the Senate deliberates with critters who are there to protect the equities of their state.

Happy Nomad on May 31, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Happy Nomad on May 31, 2014 at 5:17 PM

That’s how it was prior to 1913, HN, when the 17th Amendment was ratified. I can only imagine how different our situation would be now if’n that amendment had never been ratified.

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 5:21 PM

The 3d, 4th, 5th and 6th Presidents had also served as Sec of State.

*gasp!* You don’t REALLY want Hillary that badly, do you? :P

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Monroe served, for a time, as Madison’s Secretary of State and Secretary of War. He also logged time as an ambassador.

I’d vote for Monroe today before ever supporting Killary.

Happy Nomad on May 31, 2014 at 5:23 PM

That’s how it was prior to 1913, HN, when the 17th Amendment was ratified. I can only imagine how different our situation would be now if’n that amendment had never been ratified.

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 5:21 PM

I completely agree. Which is why I consider this far more important an alteration to the Constitution than getting rid of the VP.

Happy Nomad on May 31, 2014 at 5:26 PM

While I disagree with Mandel about the possibility of changing the party in power during such an ascension being a thing to be avoided,

I concur. That would have happened if McCain had won and then died in office.

Grammar Nazi on May 31, 2014 at 5:30 PM

The Vice President has a clearly defined role per the Constitution: President of the Senate. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson attempted to establish that the for the VP. Unfortunately both men weren’t known for their people skills and the Senators at the time quickly found ways to prevent both men from exercising control over the Senate. Other VPs have tried as well as to exercise the role prescribed for them by the Constitution, but Senators both past and present have no desire/interest in allowing a VP taking control of the Senate. It might take a Vice President with the full backing of the President willing to fight for his/hers rightful position as President of the Senate. The Senators represent theirs states in the Senate, the Vice President because he/she is elected by all the states is the representative of the nation. Someday perhaps a VP will come along that will use that to fight for his/her office.

Tarnsman on May 31, 2014 at 5:32 PM

That’s how it was prior to 1913, HN, when the 17th Amendment was ratified. I can only imagine how different our situation would be now if’n that amendment had never been ratified.

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 5:21 PM

I think the outcome of the Civil War put the kibosh on the states having any effect on how the country was run. The 17th just made it official.

Grammar Nazi on May 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

I concur. That would have happened if McCain had won and then died in office.

Grammar Nazi on May 31, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Heh.

Well played, GN …

ShainS on May 31, 2014 at 5:34 PM

The most important issue related to constitutional change is the absolute necessity of repealing the 14th amendment.

Virtually no other constitutional change would do as much good for the future of the country than would the repeal of the 14th amendment, an amendment which was never supposed to become a way for illegal alien hordes and their anchor babies to degrade and fundamentally change the nation for the worse.

bluegill on May 31, 2014 at 5:35 PM

While I disagree with Mandel about the possibility of changing the party in power during such an ascension being a thing to be avoided,

I concur. That would have happened if McCain had won and then died in office.
Grammar Nazi on May 31, 2014 at 5:30 PM

McCain and Palin were both Republicans–the only change in political PARTY that I can recall was when Abraham Lincoln (Republican) was assassinated and his veep, Andrew Johnson (Democrat) became President.

In the case of Sarah Palin, President, v Dinghy Harry/Nasty Pelosi, though, now THAT’S fireworks I would’ve LOVED to have seen!

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Getting rid of the VP would make getting rid of the Electoral College easier, because the VP presides over that process.

The VP also presides over the impeachment trials of Federal officers (except for when a President is impeached, in which case it’s the Chief Justice).

Del Dolemonte on May 31, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 5:38 PM

I think Grammar Nazi was sarcastically suggesting that McCain is really a Dem … ;-)

ShainS on May 31, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Jazz, most of the calls are NOT for a Constitutional Convention, which is what you do if you will be replacing the constitution, the calls are for an Article V Convention, an alternative means around Congress for passing amendments to the constitution.

You are being disingenuous and using scare tactics when you call it a Constitutional Convention.

NWConservative on May 31, 2014 at 5:51 PM

I think the outcome of the Civil War put the kibosh on the states having any effect on how the country was run. The 17th just made it official.

Grammar Nazi on May 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Please expound on that idea. On the simplistic side you’re talking about the death of states’ rights but that didn’t happen in 1865.

IMO, the 17th Amendment was the beginning of states not having any effect on how the country was run. I can lay out my reasoning. Can you?

Happy Nomad on May 31, 2014 at 5:54 PM

I have my doubts about that, Steve. With the individual states (back to) having a say in how monies are spent by the Central Government, it could very well dry up much of the socialist utopia agenda in such states as CA, NY and MA because other states like WY, TX and FL would vote against such “freebies” and “bailouts.” It could also work to getting the states from being buried under such foolishness as the Mandates for Monies programs by NOT having those programs legislated in the first place, as the Senators would have to vote according to their states wishes (ideally).

Besides, those Senators who vote against their states’ wishes/interests would be much easier recalled than now.

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 5:08 PM

You forget that the federal government has the ultimate printing press, and politicians, especially those accountable only to other politicians, love to horse-trade.

Let me tell you a little story from Wisconsin’s political history. Back in 2001, Scott McCallum became governor with a split Legislature after Tommy Thompson became HHS Secretary in the GW Bush administration. He saw the fiscal ruin the state was facing and proposed to end revenue sharing. Even though the suburbs of Milwaukee, which were and are as Republican as can be, are big donors in the revenue-sharing scheme, the local government officials screamed bloody murder to their “Republican” legislators and the proposed end to revenue sharing got scuttled before it got out of the “Republican” Assembly.

Meanwhile, the establishment got Thompson’s brother Ed (himself a local government official, specifically the mayor of Tomah) to run as a Losertarian, and thanks to the 11% who voted for him, we got Jim “Craps” Doyle (WEAC/HoChunk-For Sale), though the “Republicans” got the Senate and bona-fide conservatives took control of the Republican Assembly caucus and thus the Assembly for the first time.

Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Jazz, most of the calls are NOT for a Constitutional Convention, which is what you do if you will be replacing the constitution, the calls are for an Article V Convention, an alternative means around Congress for passing amendments to the constitution.

You are being disingenuous and using scare tactics when you call it a Constitutional Convention.

NWConservative on May 31, 2014 at 5:51 PM

To be fair to Jazz, what became The Constitutional Convention was sold as merely a convention to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation.
.
Further, since Congress hsa the ultimate authority to call and control the form of an Article V Convention, be very careful of what you wish for – we may well learn to loathe the result.

Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 5:57 PM

ShainS on May 31, 2014 at 5:34 PM

I walked right into that one, didn’t I… o_O

Newtie and the Beauty on May 31, 2014 at 6:00 PM

To be fair to Jazz, what became The Constitutional Convention was sold as merely a convention to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation.
.
Further, since Congress hsa the ultimate authority to call and control the form of an Article V Convention, be very careful of what you wish for – we may well learn to loathe the result.

Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 5:57 PM

There is nothing in the Constitution that states that the US Congress has any say on an Article V Convention, other than that it “shall call a convention,” when 2/3 of the states apply for a convention. Nothing states that a new constitution can be passed and that should a runaway convention happen, the states will revoke their delegates (if they follow the Indiana laws). The convention only will be for amending the Constitution.

Here is Article V of the US Constitution:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

NWConservative on May 31, 2014 at 6:06 PM

NWConservative on May 31, 2014 at 6:06 PM

I am well familiar with the Article. Once 2/3rds of the state Legislatures apply for an amendment convention, it is Congress that calls it (or not; in 1929, Congress ignored the Wisconsin Legislature’s claim that if the various petitions then before it were combined, the 2/3rds threshold was met). That call implicitly states that Congress, not the states, controls who serves in said convention.

There is no legally-binding precedent that says that the Legislatures (or any other state-based body) has any say in the process between the points of filing the petition and receiving the resulting amendments (assuming Congress decides to send them to the Legislatures).

Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 6:24 PM

With all the reforms desperately needed in our federal government, this is what Mataconis and Mandel come up with?

Although I suppose it is just as well to keep such deep thinkers occupied with the periphery while the adults engage on the real issues, so have at it.

Adjoran on May 31, 2014 at 7:05 PM

The VP is the President of the Senate, not the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. The latter position is currently held by Patrick Leahy.

J.S.K. on May 31, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Exactly. “Pro tempore” translates to “for the time being” or “temporary”. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate only has authority to act in the absence of the President of the Senate.

The Vice President has a clearly defined role per the Constitution: President of the Senate.

Tarnsman on May 31, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Exactly.

Just because we haven’t seen a Vice President in our lifetimes actually DO THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL JOB on a full-time basis, doesn’t mean that they don’t have a job to do.

http://tinyurl.com/President-of-the-senate

ITguy on May 31, 2014 at 7:45 PM

I am well familiar with the Article. Once 2/3rds of the state Legislatures apply for an amendment convention, it is Congress that calls it (or not; in 1929, Congress ignored the Wisconsin Legislature’s claim that if the various petitions then before it were combined, the 2/3rds threshold was met). That call implicitly states that Congress, not the states, controls who serves in said convention.There is no legally-binding precedent that says that the Legislatures (or any other state-based body) has any say in the process between the points of filing the petition and receiving the resulting amendments (assuming Congress decides to send them to the Legislatures).
Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 6:24 PM

I would think ultimately you can’t have a runaway convention of either sort if 3/4th of the states won’t ratify it or any of the amendments.

AH_C on May 31, 2014 at 9:02 PM

There’s an old saying.

The Vice Presidency isn’t worth a warm bucket of Spit.
(courtesy of John Nance Garner)

That being said, no, don’t get rid of it.

ToddPA on May 31, 2014 at 9:19 PM

As long as there are an even number of states, we’d have to figure out how to deal with the possibility of tie votes in the Senate.

Its not about the even number of states rather than there will always be a even number of senators. How did he miss that?

TheIkrim on May 31, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Is there a point to this thread?

entagor on May 31, 2014 at 9:37 PM

but it can still happen and the President Pro Tempore has to be available to break that tie.

The president pro tempore does not break the tie he is not the president of the senate (VP) rather a sitting senator (does he vote twice?).

TheIkrim on May 31, 2014 at 9:43 PM

Time to get rid of the Vice Presidency?

Go back to having the second place finisher become vice president, but give him the power to investigate and prosecute the administration instead of being the president of the Senate and in line for the Presidency.

Count to 10 on May 31, 2014 at 10:11 PM

The VP is like the airbag in your car….you never want to activate it, but it is important that it is there.Of course, some VPS are more hot air bags, but still. And frankly, I find myself longing for President Joe Biden for the next couple years vs Obama finishing America off, um, his term.

ProfShadow on June 1, 2014 at 12:46 AM

If Romney had gotten elected, he could have had a First and Second Counselor. ;)

Moron Labe on June 1, 2014 at 3:13 AM

Time to get rid of the Vice Presidency?

Talking about altering the Constitution for any reason makes me nervous.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 1, 2014 at 5:56 AM

Too early. Ugh.

Jazz Shaw on June 1, 2014 at 6:24 AM

The office is only as good as the person in it and the boss above it.

albill on June 1, 2014 at 8:13 AM

We have so little left of how the founders set things up, I’m not really for any major changes to the document at this point. I’m wondering if they are setting us up for all we need is Killary.

Kissmygrits on June 1, 2014 at 9:06 AM

We already got rid of the Vice-Presidency when the public, in its wisdom, elected Joe Biden to the office. It is now a refuge for demented politicians.

paulus1 on June 1, 2014 at 9:13 AM

I am more concerned with the vices of the president than I am about Joe Biden.

JohnFLob on June 1, 2014 at 10:36 AM

How about we all get together and demand we get rid of the office of the FLOTUS?
That alone will balance the budget.

Don L on June 1, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Kissmygrits on June 1, 2014 at 9:06 AM

if you mean that the left doesn’t want a VP Biden in the path of their beloved messiah-ette Hillary, I agree.

Don L on June 1, 2014 at 11:31 AM

I am well familiar with the Article. Once 2/3rds of the state Legislatures apply for an amendment convention, it is Congress that calls it (or not; in 1929, Congress ignored the Wisconsin Legislature’s claim that if the various petitions then before it were combined, the 2/3rds threshold was met). That call implicitly states that Congress, not the states, controls who serves in said convention.

There is no legally-binding precedent that says that the Legislatures (or any other state-based body) has any say in the process between the points of filing the petition and receiving the resulting amendments (assuming Congress decides to send them to the Legislatures).

Steve Eggleston on May 31, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Where in Article V does it say, “Congress, not the states, controls who serves in said convention”?

James Madison said himself that:“[The Constitution] equally enables the general and the State governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other.”

There is no precedent on an Article V convention period, other than several Supreme Court quotes briefly touching the subject. Congress cannot pass a law governing the convention as they do not have the power to do so under Article V.

Supreme Court United States v. Sprague (1931):

The United States asserts that Article V is clear in statement and in meaning, contains no ambiguity, and calls for no resort to rules of construction. A mere reading demonstrates that this is true. It provides two methods for proposing amendments. Congress may propose them by a vote of two-thirds of both houses, or, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the states, must call a convention to propose them. Amendments proposed in either way become a part of the Constitution

If the Congress refuses to call an Article V Convention, they are plainly in violation of the law and must be brought to court, impeached, or removed from office via elections.

As to the legal options, unfortunately there has not been a court case dealing with the refusal to call a convention as none of the states who have demanded a convention took the matter further.

NWConservative on June 1, 2014 at 1:23 PM

The present arrangement was largely an outgrowth of partisan politics, especially in two important ways.

First, a VP who was the other party’s losing candidate could not always be relied upon to support the President. In fact, he could very well conspire with his own party to torpedo said POTUS, so as to have another shot at his job in the next election.

Second, anything happening to the POTUS could mean an instant change in policy…to the losing side’s policies. Imagine that happening in early 1865, if Lincoln had died unexpectedly, and his losing 1864 opponent, Gen. McClellan, who favored concluding an immediate peace that left the CSA as a separate, sovereign nation with slavery intact, had succeeded him.

Oops.

The abolishing of the post of VOTUS has similar hazards. Consider this- who is next in line behind him in the succession?

The Speaker of the House. Who, through most of our history, has been of the opposite party from the President.

Given a sufficiently cut-throat attitude in Foggy Bottom, all that would be necessary for a “change of government” would be for whichever party had the majority in the House to hire a couple of hitters. Faster and more certain than impeachment- probably cheaper, too.

And just try to prove it afterward. Good. Luck.

The Vice President is an “insurance policy”, in more ways than one.

clear ether

eon

eon on June 1, 2014 at 2:44 PM

If Romney had gotten elected, he could have had a First and Second Counselor. ;)

Moron Labe on June 1, 2014 at 3:13 AM

Now that’s funny!

AesopFan on June 1, 2014 at 9:43 PM

Having a member of the legislative branch in the line of succession creates a paradox. A person can’t simultaneously hold a position in the legislative branch and the executive branch. A legislator would have to resign their position in order to succeed the president, but upon resigning their position, they are no longer in the line of succession and are not eligible to be president.

edrebber on June 1, 2014 at 11:18 PM