President John Tyler

I can believe that there was controversey over Tyler’s status when he assumed the duties of the President, I can’t believe that a hundred and sixty years later there is still debate. Do people doubt the presidencies of Andrew Johnson or Gerald Ford (to name just two VPs who succeeded Presidents but were never elected to the office)?

The real reason I bring up the article, though, is to share an interesting fact. I have a friend, an elderly southern gentleman, who is the grandson of President Tyler, who was president over 160 years ago. The President’s youngest son’s youngest son. Isn’t that cool?

Since Tyler was the first VP to have a President snuff it on his watch, there was a big dispute. The Constitution said that “In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President…” Art. II, Sec. 1, cl. 6. Most scholars thought this meant the “powers and duties” of the Presidency would be exercised by the VP, not that he would actually become President. Tyler insisted otherwise, and made it stick. The politics of the day were at issue, too; Tyler certainly had his foes. All reputable historians now consider him to have been President.

It wasn’t until 1967, though, that it was made clear that “In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.” Amendment XXV, Sec. 1 (emphasis added).

Cool that you met his grandson.

President Tyler may have sucked at running the country, but when it came to creating descendants the man had, ahem, the touch. He fathered 15 kids and though he was born when Washington was president his last child lived until 1947.

Fascinating. Tyler’s Wikipedia article says he lived from 1790 to 1862. His grandson Harrison Ruffin Tyler was born in 1928, the middle generation being one Lyon Gardiner Tyler, who lived from 1853 to 1935.

So John Tyler has a son when he was 63, and Lyon Tyler had a son when he was 71. Wow. No info there on Harrison Tyler’s children.

My friend’s name is also Lyon, and would have been born in the 1920’s. I think his father was Robert F. Tyler (1856-1927).

Yes, John Tyler was unsurpassed in presidential fecundity. Fifteen children, the eldest and youngest being born 45 years apart.

As has been pointed out, Tyler was born when Washington was President. The Framers weren’t around to ask what they meant.

There are a great many nutcases in the US (mostly right-wing zealots) whose legal thinking is based on the assumption that law operates like traditional geometry (with the Constitution playing the part of the axioms and postulates) or like the rules of a role-playing game. (It may be that a great many people who are not nutcases believe the same thing – I believed it myself, after all, when I was about twelve – but they don’t draw attention to themselves.) To such people, the statement, “Yes, the wording of the law is a little less than clear, but the issue has been settled for a long time,” is simply incomprehensible.

Note, by the way, that only the Vice President may become President. When there is no Vice President, any official further down the line becomes acting president only. This situation, however, has never happened in US history… so far.

I can easily see a situation, prior to the Fifteenth Amendment, where Richard B. Cheney might have assumed the Presidency upon the death of George W. Bush and faced considerable opposition. Makes perfect sense to me that there was controversy at the time.

Makes no sense at all that anyone would give a rat’s ass about it now.

Oh boy. So If Bush and Cheney both do the mortal coil shuffle more or less simultaneously, Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker of the House, becomes Acting President. Are her powers as Acting President in any way limited, or is she de facto The President?

Also, if she serves out more than half of a four-year term as Acting President, can she then run for President, be elected and run again four years later without running afoul of the two-term limitation?

It would not be Speaker Pelosi, but rather Secretary Rice. The Constitution limits acting presidents to (executive branch) officers so IMHO, in the case of Rice v. Pelosi, SCOTUS would rule that making the Speaker of the House and President Pro-Tempore of the Senate part of the line of succession unconstitutional.

Isn’t the line of succession that specifies the SotH and PP-TotS after the VP in an amendment to the Consitution? Ergo, SCOTUS can’t rule it unconstitutional.

Nope. Succession beyond the VP is specified in the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the constitutionality of which has not, to the best of my knowledge, been tested.

But I can’t see Condi challenging Pelosi for the Presidency. Maybe I’m just feeling rosy.

Precisely where does the Constitution limit acting presidents to executive branch officers? If such an event happen I don’t see Rice bringing a case, having a case, or winning a case.

This statement is on the face of it wrong. There is no such limitation in the United States Constitution.

Succession to the Presidency is established by the Twentieth and Twenty-fifth Amendments to the Constitution, the original clause on succession having proved insufficient. The current presidential succession act passed by Congress was passed, it should be noted, under the provisions of Article II, Section 1.

Now, the current presidential line of succession can be read at Wikipedia:Presidential Line of Succession. You will note that the succession goes from the Vice-President to the Speaker, to the President Pro-Tem, THEN to the Secretary of State. :wink:

  1. Is any member of Congress an “officer”? I’ll point out the impeachment of William Blount as the precedent for this question. (Hint: the answer is no)
  2. Just because a law is passed (in this case, The Presidential Succession Act of 1947) does not mean it is constitutional. Congress has passed unconstitutional laws before.
  3. Article II, Section 1 has been modified by the 20th and 25th amendments, but the 20th Amendment refers to sucession if no qualified candidate has been elected President or Vice-President. The 25th Amendment does not deal with any succession beyond that of the Vice-President becoming President upon the President’s death or resignation or taking on the duties of the Office of the President in other cases. So what Constitutional authority specifically allows non-officers (e.g. SOTH or PPTOTS) to be in the line of succession?

A case where the Senate claimed that Blount wasn’t a civil officer, thus not subject to impeachment, hardly counts as an “answer” - it’s still an open question.

Also, I have no idea what the courts have said on this manner, but it’s worth noting that the impeachment clause says “civil officer”, whereas the clause in question lacks the adjective “civil”, which may make a difference between the two cases.

First of all, the issue of whether a congressman is an “officer” has not been addressed. The failure of the Senate to vote a conviction in the case of a particular impeachment is not an indication of a judicial decision. Duh.

Secondly, you added the words “executive branch” to your original post. You will note the absence of the words in the section of text you quoted. In which case my statement is quite accurate. The constitution does not contain any limitation of the “Acting President” to “(executive branch) officers.” Since both the Speaker and the President Pro-Tempore are “officers” (albeit of the legislative bodies), they are not facially disqualified.

Try again. And next time, I suggest reading what you say carefully before posting; your concept has validity (it might be the case that the clause would be interpreted that way, though in reality it’s doubtful the Supreme Court would get involved in the “political question”), but your statement was inaccurate.

Not even in an oiled cage-match?