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Q: presidential crime ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: presidential crime
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: jeraboo-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 28 Oct 2006 10:12 PDT
Expires: 27 Nov 2006 09:12 PST
Question ID: 777795
If the Vice President murdered the President and was arrested on the
spot, wouldn't he also need to be immediately sworn in as President?
How could he govern?

Request for Question Clarification by tutuzdad-ga on 29 Oct 2006 09:02 PST
Answering your question will require a liberal amount of speculation
since no legal precedent exists. Is this ok or would you require a
more authoritative answer?


Clarification of Question by jeraboo-ga on 29 Oct 2006 10:11 PST
Speculation is OK. Please include the premise that the new president
immediately fires his cabinet.

Request for Question Clarification by tutuzdad-ga on 29 Oct 2006 10:37 PST
That may not be possible if said speculation also includes the
probability that the Vice President would not BECOME President in this
particular scenario.

Clarification of Question by jeraboo-ga on 29 Oct 2006 11:03 PST
OK, that's fine.
Subject: Re: presidential crime
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 29 Oct 2006 12:25 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear jeraboo-ga;

Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question in form
of personal speculation and opinion. As you?ve probably already
surmised by my previous comments, that I am of the opinion that the
Vice President would not become President if he were to murder the
sitting President, and I think my position is well supported. Let me

In your hypothetical scenario the Vice President murders the
President. He is, as you stated, arrested for the crime because enough
probable cause obviously exists to warrant his arrest. As an accused
murderer the Vice President will be remanded to the custody of law
enforcement authorities until his arraignment at which time he will
enter an initial plea (guilty, not guilty or no contest). Such an
arraignment will not likely take place in the immediate aftermath of
the President?s death and in the absence of both President and Vice
President there would exist a double vacancy (and perhaps somewhat of
a temporary political vacuum) in the White House. His incaceration
alone will render him unable to discharge his official duties. What if
he were relased on bond, you might ask? Isn't he presumed innocent
until PROVEN guilty? Yes, he is presumed to be innocent but he
probably wouldn't be released on bond so as to avoid just the scenario
you implied, but let's not get too speculative and stick with the
legal aspects of the matter at hand.

Presidential succession is discussed in three specific areas of the US
Constitution: Article II, Section 1, Clause 6; the 20th Amendment; and
the 25th Amendment, and also in the presidential-succession law passed
by Congress in 1947. Under Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the
Constitution, as supplemented by Section 1 of the 25th Amendment, the
Vice President would normally become President in the event of the
death, resignation, or removal of the president. However, in the event
the Vice President is unable to discharge the duties as President (as
clearly he would be in this situation) the Speaker of the House of
Representatives would ascend to the Presidency. The provision for this
is cited in the United States Code [3 U.S.C 19(a)(1)] that
specifically says (and I capitalize here for emphasis sake only):

(a) (1) IF, BY REASON OF death, resignation, removal from office,
PRESIDENT, then the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall,
upon his resignation as Speaker and as Representative in Congress, act
as President.

Since the Vice President would obviously be unable to (inability) to
carry out (discharge) the duties of the office of President, having
been incarcerated and awaiting arraignment for murder, the Speaker
would logically be the person to whom the office would legally fall.

To further confirm my opinion of what would take place in this
scenario I point out to you Article 2 of the US Constitution (by way
of Amendment XXV) which states in part:

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, and the
Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death,
resignation or inability, both of the President and Vice President,
declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer
shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President
shall be elected.


Finally, under Amendment XIV of the US Constitution, by virtue of is
acts, the Vice President would technically render himself ineligible
to hold the office of President (or Vice President either for that

?No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or
elector of President and Vice-President, OR HOLD ANY OFFICE, civil or
military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having
previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of
the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an
executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the
Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection
or rebellion against the same??

It doesn?t take much of an imagination here to venture to say that
most prudent Americans, courts, tribunals and Congress would all
consider the murder of the President to be an indisputable act of
insurrection or rebellion against the United States. A Vice President
who did that could essentially kiss his political future goodbye.

With these references in mind Congress would find themselves faced
with simultaneous obligations; the constitutional filling of the
vacancy of President due to his death and the inability of the Vice
President to assume the office (because he is cannot discharge the
duties). Moreover Congress would likely be faced with a third problem,
the constitutional removal of the Vice President from office but this
would probably take place at some point after the Speaker takes office
and after the Vice President was impeached by Congress and convicted
of his crimes in a criminal court of law. All that notwithstanding, in
the interim the end result would be, as provided in the Constitution,
the ascension of the Speaker to the Office of President and the Vice
President would never be in a position for fire ANYONE?except maybe
his lawyer.  ;)

I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.

Best regards;

Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher



 19. Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President;
officers eligible to act



Google ://







Clarification of Answer by tutuzdad-ga on 29 Oct 2006 12:56 PST
Thank you for the generous tip!
jeraboo-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Excellent, comprehensive answer. I wish I could tip more.

Subject: Re: presidential crime
From: probonopublico-ga on 28 Oct 2006 11:56 PDT
There are always 'doubles' who can be drafted in to take care of such contingencies.
Subject: Re: presidential crime
From: barneca-ga on 28 Oct 2006 13:55 PDT
isn't there a mechanism for the cabinet to declare the president
unfit, at least until there is some kind of trial/hearing/impeachment?

Subject: Re: presidential crime
From: jeraboo-ga on 28 Oct 2006 14:24 PDT
What if he fires the cabinet upon taking office?
Subject: Re: presidential crime
From: myoarin-ga on 28 Oct 2006 20:12 PDT
As you said, he would need to be sworn in first, so if the chief
justice simply refused ...?

You can make up difficult scenarios, maybe some for which there is not
ready answer foreseen by the constitution, but there are responsible
people involved who would find a solution.
Subject: Re: presidential crime
From: myoarin-ga on 29 Oct 2006 12:47 PST
Tutz, really great, as an answer and for presenting the good thinking
in the Constitution and 14th Amendment.  Respect!

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