When the Bad Guys Finally Get Lucky

In action movies, a fairly standard plot is to have terrorists that are trying to destroy Washington, DC. Let’s suppose for a moment that one of them actually succeeds. Our nation’s capital is wiped off the map, and the President, Vice President, Cabinet, Supreme Court, and Congress (most of them, at least) are all dead. The federal government is decimated; not even Strom Thurmond survives the cataclism.

My question is: what happens now? Is the USA dissolved, or do the 50 states just set up a new federal government somewhere else? Could 49 of the states get together and kick out California? Could I get away with not filing my income tax that year?

While the decimation of most of the officials of the federal government would be disruptive to say the least, I believe that the federal government as an abstraction would still exist.

I presume that somefederal official somewhere outside Washington would legally be the heir to the office of President of the United States. Probably what would happen is that martial law would be declared until such time as the vacant offices could be reinstated. Unless someone decided to impose a dictatorship or secceed from the United States, I think most concerned would presume that the federal government still existed and work to get it up and running again.

FEMA takes over and sets up an impromptu dictatorship…[/paranoid raving]

From a recent GQ thread on the Order of Presidental Succession

This sounds, at the least, plausible.

This is at least the fourth thread on this subject in the last two weeks. I guess the inauguration of Dubya must have the Teeming Millions thinking in Apocalyptic terms. :wink:

The demise of the individual elected or appointed officials that comprise the Federal Government has absolutely no effect on the Constitution. The Union itself would in no way be affected by nuking Washington.

I, for one, would be too hungover to care what you did with your income taxes.

But this reminds me of Alas, Babylon, where Washington gets nuked and the new president turns out to be the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (or something like that), who no one has ever heard of and who happened to be out of town when the bomb dropped.