Archive for the ‘presidential sucession’ Tag

Repeal the 25th Amendment?   2 comments

Back in 1974, when Gerald Ford became vice-president without having been elected, there was a general movement to repeal or modify the 25th amendment. Oddly enough, this movement faded when Ford became president and then came back full force when Ford pardoned Nixon. There was a sense that the democratic process was not functioning properly.

It’s important to recognize that the 25th amendment was only seven years old when Ford became president. It was a widely-praised reform aimed at eliminating the likelihood that the Speaker of the House, third in line of official secession, would ever become President. At the time, it was argued that Speakers were elected only by their district, which might be a tiny fraction of the population and parochial in their view point. It never occurred to anyone that the President and Vice-President might both by forced from office by disgrace within a single term.

The 25th amendment allows the President to fill a Vice-presidential vacancy, pending Congressional approval. There were several ideas for fixing what was seen as a usurpation of democracy.

Representative Julia Butler Hanson suggested a simple repeal, which the Senate constitutional subcommittee considered holding a special national election when a Vice Presidential vacancy occurs. Sen. John Pastore of Rhode Island thought the national special election should occur only if that unelected VP were to be followed by an opening in the Presidential office. Sen. Robert Griffin of Michigan introduced a constitutional revision that would have eliminated Vice Presidential candidates from the general election ballot, having Congress select the Vice President after the election.

The proposal died in commitee in 1974 after Hansen chose not to run for reelection and there’s been no serious moves since then to repeal it, but Soda Head and the Daily Kos were both discussing it in recent weeks.

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