Max no of years as President?

I know that the usually quoted maximum possible time for being a President is 10 years, but have I found a way to beat that?

Consider Character A. He becomes Vice President to President B. After 2 years, B resigns and so A becomes President. Because it’s over half-way through B’s term of office it doesn’t count towards the maximum of two terms. Now, at the next election, A stands again, but as Vice-President to C. Both get elected. After two years, C stands down, and A becomes President. At the next election, A stands again for Vice President … Repeat ad nauseam.

I’ve thought of this too. In theory, I think you’re probably right.

However, in reality, I don’t think the public would stand for it. These same two people just wouldn’t get elected over and over again.

Just want to point out though, that something like this did happen when Edward Kennedy was elected senator. He was only 29, so they somehow got a family friend to be Senator until he turned 30. The guy resigned, and Ted took over.

I don’t know all the particulars, but it seems to me that the friend could have said the big “FU” and kept on being senator.

But then Teddy might have given him a ride home. :eek:

Not exactly. Benjamin A. Smith II, JFK’s roommate at Harvard, was appointed to temporarily fill Kennedy’s unexpired term when JFK was elected president in 1960, which at that point had four years remaining. A special election for the last two years of JFK’s term was required in 1962. Smith agreed not to run in the special election, making way for Edward Kennedy, who had turned 30 in February of that year. But Smith did not resign.

If a political party was willing to go through these shenanigans to keep A in power, it’d be easier to just insist A be given a major cabinet position (Sec. of State, Treasury, Defence etc.) from every President from that party. A would be a major player in Washington and you wouldn’t have to alienate the voters by playing games with the constitution.

Or just put A on the Supreme Court, where he can help form policy for life.

After ten years of presidential time, wouldn’t A be passed over for the presidency? Say he’s already served his ten maximum allowable years in the OP’s fashion, but has been elected VP again. (Not that I’m saying it would ever happen, because I don’t think people would keep on electing him as VP.) The president dies/resigns. If the president has more time left on his term than A would be allowed to serve (say that A had already served nine years three months, and there was a full year left), wouldn’t the job automatically go to the Speaker of the House? Or would it go to A first, and then he’d be forced to resign exactly at ten years, leaving the Speaker to fill out the rest of the term?

This won’t work because the Constitution says that no person ineligible to be President can run for the Vice-Presidency.


continuity eror, I think the deal is that any person may serve as President for a maximum of two terms, and that two years does not count as a term, not that 10 years is the maximum serving time allowed.

However, I can’t help thinking that there is a limit to the maximum number of times running for VP.

There is a bunch of correct and incorrect information here.

If a VP (or whoever) has not been President before and has to serve the remainder of a Presidents term, they be President for two more terms if the remainder is two years or less. Otherwise they can only serve one more term. Therefore the maximum is 10 years.

You cannot be a VP if you are ineligible to be the President. Therefore the VP must have at least four years left of eligibility (plus be born in the US, over 35, etc.)

In case someone wonders, if the P and the VP were to die and the next in line (Speaker of the House) is ineligible it skips him/her and the next in line will get in.


But this isn’t relevant, since A in the OP’s example perpetually has four years left of eligibility (eight years, in fact), since he never serves for more than half of any given term. I see no reason, other than the will of the voters and of the presidents this guy is running with, why this could not occur.

We could try to revive Harry Truman. He was the only one the amendment did not apply to. Ex-president Herbert Hoover was alive at the time and it even applied to him.

Earlier threads that have addressed (and pretty much exhausted) this topic:

American President and terms in office

Could Kerry choose Clinton as a running mate

Could Clinton become VP?

I can see three possible views about whether a twice-elected president can become vice-president:

  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 imports 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 “[n]o 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 twenty-fifth 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 more than 30 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 or a court case, I suppose that there can be no definitive answer until somebody tries it.

Again, we’re not talking about a twice-elected president. We’re talking about a twice (or more) elected vice-president, who happens to ascend to the Presidency many times.

Correct. The putative person concerned is never elected as President.

A person cannot be elected president more than twice. One academic points out that in theory a vice president who took over the office of president upon the elected president’s death/resignation could still stand for election twice, and therefore serve more than 10 years since he wasn’t elected to his first term in office. Another academic pointed out that the vice-president is elected alongside the president and voters know that perhaps the most important of his “duties” is to take over as president if neccesary, therefore it could be argued that he was in fact “elected” to the presidents office in the event that the elected president died/resigned. Of course if the elected president finished his full term then the VP would never have been elected president.
It would make for an interesting consitutional debate if it ever happened.

“…and therefore serve more than 10 years since he wasn’t elected to his first term in office…”

oops…i meant more than 8 years.

Well, then, that’s hardly “in theory”, since that’s spelled out explicitly in the Constitution.