What If the V.P. Resigned in the First Two Weeks?
With all the election fun an odd thought occurred to me: What if a Vice President resigned in the first two weeks after an inauguration? This idea is not a Palin or Biden dig. It just seems odd that one could add someone to a ticket so that a certain group is appeased, but then that person could resign for personal reasons or a truly cynical party or executive could wait a little time and then have the V.P. leave office. I don’t think that one would have standing or a cause of action, for as my colleague, Bryan Wildenthal, noted, one might say that this possible outcome is clear in the Constitution so one votes with that in mind. As a practical matter, a party that tried a bait and switch would lose face and probably so much ground that they might have to change their name (It has been some time for a name switch, but it a little re-branding might help on many fronts—hmm an idea for another time). So the V.P. is irrelevant; yet not. Bryan reminded me that the VP position provides a great stepping-stone to the Presidency. Still, as it stands the ticket systems seems open to challenge or reform.
In fact, Bryan had an interesting idea. I am paraphrasing his email, but he suggested that the current practice is too unilateral as it allows the nominee to select the V.P. without broad vetting and approval. He floated one possible idea: amend the Constitution so that the Secretary of State is next-in-line. This approach would make sure that the position was vetted and approved by the Senate. Insofar as one thinks that the approval would be pro forma, one should consider that both sides would be quite invested in the choice of Secretary of State if that spot was also a next-in-line for the Presidency.
Some could argue that this approach takes the people out of the equation, but I think that they already are. And even if one adapted Bryan’s idea and kept the V.P. but with vetting and approval by the Senate, one might have a useful hybrid: the people would have their President but the Senate would have a voice as to who might be next. Would there be wrangling? Sure. But given that the current system does not allow or require that the V.P. run in the same way as the President, the Senate arguably would have a more representative voice than in place now.
So there it is, an odd thought problem for Labor Day.