Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Congrats to Senator Pat Leahy (D VT)

who has become President Pro Tempore of the US Senate in the unfortunate death of Hawaii's own Dan Inouye. It is a largely ceremonial job notable in a constitutional context for being fourth in line to the US Presidency per the 1947 Presidential Succession Act. Me personally I think it is long past due to revisit that particular statute. The problem is, succession initially passes thru the elected officers of both houses of congress...and most of the time that means the opposition, the losers in the last presidential election have a place at the table in the event of a "double vacancy" in the Executive Department. Prior to 1947, succession passed thru the Cabinet sans demure with the Secretary of State third in line and this during an era when there was no constitutional mechanism for replacing a vice presidential vacancy. Alas in 1947, Harry Truman decided the Presidency had to pass to someone who could claim some type of an electoral mandate and the GOP, then in control of congress wanted a place in the line of succession hence the current succession act. Y'know the Founding Fathers had a horror of de-legitimization and or factional chaos, originally they mandated that the runner up in the Presidential contest became VP...well that didn't last eight years as it meant the opposition decredited and all, inherited the second office in the land no matter what. They got rid of that little notion plenty quick and thus enshired in the constitution they notion that Presidential Succession should not invalidate or over-ride the outcome of the last US election. At least that was the case broqadly speaking until 1947 which implemented the current scheme which promises us needless chaos and bitterness should the unthinkable happen. I say repeal the captioned act, and restore line of succession to the Cabinet Officers starting with the Secretary of State and then the Secretary of Defense on down...with the House Speaker and the President Pro Tem coming ion dead last. I don't offer that as a rebuke to either House, I merely which to preserve in a larger sense the "will of the people" and the legitimacy of the Presidency....

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