Could Clinton become VP?

I originally asked this question of my high school government teacher (using Richard Nixon as an example). He was unable to tell me with 100% certainty, so I ask you:

Could a former president, say Bill Clinton, who has been elected president to two terms serve as the country’s vice-president? Does the Constitutional amendment limiting a president to two terms or ten years preclude him from being in ANY position that may eventually become president again?

12th Amendment: “But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice President to the United States”.

So I’d say no, he couldn’t.

Well, not through election. However, suppose that Hillary gets elected in 2008, with someone other than Bill as her running mate. Said running mate resigns on Jan 21, 2011, two years and 1 day into the term. That leaves 2 years minus one day for a replacement veep; one could make the argument that Bill would then be eligible for the vice presidency. Then if Hillary resigns or dies, Bill would be president again.

I’m sure this has been discussed before, but if I recall, a former two-term president is prohibited from being elected president. Not from serving. So possibly, some candidate could select him as a running mate, because he may be eligible to be president while being ineligible to be elected president.

I don’t have a copy of the constitution here on my desk, does anyone know what I’m talking about?

Ever see “Blaze”? That sounds like something Earl Long would have done.

Yeah, I do, and oddly enough I have a copy of the Constitution on my desk. The 22nd does specifically say that no-one elected twice can be elected again. There’s still the matter of the prohibition of the 12th Amendment noted above on constitutional eligibility to be the Vice President, though. My first inclination was that that would be a clear bar, but the more I think about it I’m not so sure. I see a definite counter-argument that that section of the 12th refers only to the eligibility requirements of Article II (natural citizen, thirty-five), and that the 20th refers only to a President’s ineligibility to be re-elected President three times. I can see that one going to the Supreme Court. So a cynical democrat might say Bill Clinton couldn’t, but George Bush could.

I would have to concur with Skammer here. The 22nd Amendment deals only with the elligibility of someone such as Clinton to be elected to the presidency. Similarly, the 12th states only that one is ineligible to be VP if they are inelligible to hold the office of the presidency. Election to and the holding of an office are two very distinct actions, so the respective requirements are likewise distinct.

The real question is why would anyone want to be VP after being pres?

This was most recently discussed here, and that thread links to several earlier threads where the same question was asked.

I’m amazed that this comes up so often. Clearly years of filling out IRS forms have conditioned us to be a nation of lawyer wanna-bes ever on the lookout for loopholes :smiley: !

This would seem to be a matter of conjecture until such time, if ever, that The Supreme Court ever renders an opinion on this issue. In the meantime, here is my WAG:

There is nothing in the 22nd Amendment which explicitely prohibits a former president from later holding another Federal office, whether by election or appointment. While modern presidents have not sought such positions, from time-to-time prior to the passage of the 22nd Amendment former presidents did hold federal positions: William Howard Taft was Chief Justice of The Supreme Court. Andrew Johnson was a Congressman. John Quincy Adams was not only a Congressman, but served as Speaker of the House. There may be other examples.

I can’t picture that Clinton would be barred, say, from being appointed to the Cabinet (not that this seems likely to ever happen), or from running for Congress, because he would be placed somewhere low on the order of succession, and it would be remotely possible that he would become president again if a slew of people died.

By the same token, I don’t think he would be barred from becoming Vice President either. If he were, and the President died with less than two years left in his term, there would be no bar to Clinton serving as president for the remainder of the term.

And if the President died with more than two years left to his term? My WAG is that he would succeed to the presidency, but he would be considered to have his term of office expire at the end of two years of service. The 22nd Amendment would then be invoked again, this time to appoint his successor for the remainder of the original President’s term.

This means that there would be a 50-50 chance that, if the President died, his term would have to be served out by at least two people. There would, no doubt, be a good deal of discussion and objection by politicians and the electorate alike to the potential of exposing the country to this kind of confusion and discruption, and, for this reason if none other, I expect any presidential candidate would be dissuaded from naming a former two-term president as his or her running mate.

The answer is not as clear-cut as the 12th amendment suggests. I can see three possible views:

1.    A twice-elected president is ineligible for the vice-presidency under any circumstances. The 22nd amendment makes him or her ineligible for election as president, so the 12th amendment makes him or her ineligible for election as vice-president. The 25th amendment, the only other route to the vice-presidency, is silent about eligibility but implicitly imports the eligibility requirements from the 12th and 22nd amendments. (To put it another way, the 22nd amendment means that being re-elected as president exhausts one's eligibility, not only for purposes of election but for all purposes.)

2.    A twice-elected president is ineligible for the vice-presidency by election, but not necessarily by way of the 25th amendment. The 12th amendment's eligibility clause does import the 22nd amendment's limit on electability, but the 25th amendment does not involve an election, so a twice-elected former president can become vice-president if the incumbent president nominates and both houses of Congress confirm him or her.

3.    A twice-elected president is eligible for the vice-presidency under any circumstances. The 22nd amendment's literal terms apply only to election as president, not to election as vice-president or to succession to the presidency.

Views 3 and 2 are more literal (that is, more textually defensible) than View 1, but Views 1 and 2 make more sense than View 3 in light of the 22nd amendment. The amendment says only that “no person shall be elected,” but surely its intent was to keep a demagogue (or any individual, for that matter) from monopolizing the executive branch indefinitely. If a twice-elected president is eligible for election as vice-president, and is then eligible for succession to the presidency, what would stop a popular term-limited president from running for vice-president on a ticket with a figurehead who will take office then immediately step aside? The constitutional gymnastics are a little more complicated, but the same policy question can arise in the case of a twice-elected president chosen as vice-president under the 25th amendment.

A statutory succession to the presidency under the Presidential Succession Act raises substantially the same issues, since the Act’s provisions “apply only to such officers as are eligible to the office of President under the Constitution.” 3 U.S.C. § 19(e). Interestingly, there was a book written about thirty years ago–Line of Succession by Brian Garfield–that deals with some of these issues. The vice-president and speaker are killed in a terrorist attack, the president-elect is kidnapped then killed, and the president pro tem is politically unacceptable to both political parties, so the defeated outgoing president schemes to amend the Succession Act so that he can stay in office. The book sidesteps the 22nd-amendment issue, though, because the outgoing president has served only one term.

Short of a constitutional amendment, I suppose that there can be no definitive answer until somebody tries it.

Andrew Johnson served in the Senate both before and after his presidency. John Quincy Adams did serve in the House after his presidency, but never as Speaker.

No, his ego would never fit in the office!

We don’t need politics in GQ. In fact, we won’t have politics in GQ.

Keep to the facts.

bbbill beat me to the punch. No way would he ever settle for the spot of VP.