Constitution of the United States/Art. II/Sec. 1/Clause 6 Succession

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Constitutional Law Treatise
Table of Contents
US Constitution.jpg
Constitutional Law Outline
The Preamble
Article I Legislative Branch
Art. I, Section 1 Legislative Vesting Clause
Art. I, Section 2 House of Representatives
Art. I, Section 3 Senate
Art. I, Section 4 Congress
Art. I, Section 5 Proceedings
Art. I, Section 6 Rights and Disabilities
Art. I, Section 7 Legislation
Art. I, Section 8 Enumerated Powers
Art. I, Section 9 Powers Denied Congress
Art. I, Section 10 Powers Denied States
Article II Executive Branch
Art. II, Section 1 Function and Selection
Art. II, Section 2 Powers
Art. II, Section 3 Duties
Art. II, Section 4 Impeachment
Article III Judicial Branch
Art. III, Section 1 Vesting Clause
Art. III, Section 2 Justiciability
Art. III, Section 3 Treason
Article IV Relationships Between the States
Art. IV, Section 1 Full Faith and Credit Clause
Art. IV, Section 2 Interstate Comity
Art. IV, Section 3 New States and Federal Property
Art. IV, Section 4 Republican Form of Government
Article V Amending the Constitution
Article VI Supreme Law
Article VII Ratification
First Amendment: Fundamental Freedoms
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Free Speech Clause
Freedom of Association
Second Amendment: Right to Bear Arms
Third Amendment: Quartering Soldiers
Fourth Amendment: Searches and Seizures
Fifth Amendment: Rights of Persons
Sixth Amendment: Rights in Criminal Prosecutions
Seventh Amendment: Civil Trial Rights
Eighth Amendment: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Ninth Amendment: Unenumerated Rights
Tenth Amendment: Rights Reserved to the States and the People
Eleventh Amendment: Suits Against States
Twelfth Amendment: Election of President
Thirteenth Amendment: Abolition of Slavery
Thirteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition on Slavery and Involuntary Servitude
Thirteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection and Other Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 1 Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 2 Apportionment of Representation
Fourteenth Amend., Section 3 Disqualification from Holding Office
Fourteenth Amend., Section 4 Public Debt
Fourteenth Amend., Section 5 Enforcement
Fifteenth Amendment: Right of Citizens to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 1 Right to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Sixteenth Amendment: Income Tax
Seventeenth Amendment: Popular Election of Senators
Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition of Liquor
Eighteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement of Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Nineteenth Amendment: Women's Suffrage
Twentieth Amendment: Presidential Term and Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 1 Terms
Twentieth Amend., Section 2 Meetings of Congress
Twentieth Amend., Section 3 Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 4 Congress and Presidential Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 5 Effective Date
Twentieth Amend., Section 6 Ratification
Twenty-First Amendment: Repeal of Prohibition
Twenty-First Amend., Section 1 Repeal of Eighteenth Amendment
Twenty-First Amend., Section 2 Importation, Transportation, and Sale of Liquor
Twenty-First Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Second Amendment: Presidential Term Limits
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 1 Limit
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 2 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Third Amendment: District of Columbia Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 1 Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fourth Amendment: Abolition of Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 1 Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 1 Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 2 Vice President Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 3 Declaration by President
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 4 Declaration by Vice President and Others
Twenty-Sixth Amendment: Reduction of Voting Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 1 Eighteen Years of Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Seventh Amendment: Congressional Compensation

Article II Executive Branch

Section 1 Function and Selection

Clause 6 Succession

Clause Text
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.

Succession Clause for the Presidency[edit | edit source]

The ratification of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment[1] in 1967 superseded Article II, Section 1, Clause 6. Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 provides for the "Powers and Duties" of the President to "devolve" upon the Vice President if the President is no longer able "to discharge" them due to his removal from office, death, resignation, or inability.[2] Although it was unclear in the republic's early years whether the Vice President became President or merely acted as President until a new presidential election was held, ratification of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment established incontrovertibly that the Vice President becomes President upon the President's removal from office, death, resignation, or inability to perform the powers and duties of the office.[3] In addition, Article I, Section 1, Clause 6 authorizes Congress to establish the line of succession to the presidency if both the President and Vice President are unable to discharge the "Powers and Duties" of the Presidency.[4]

Although the Twenty-Fifth Amendment was ratified in 1967, the succession of the Vice President to the office of President upon the President's death or resignation has been the practice of the Republic since its earliest days. On April 4, 1841, President William Henry Harrison became the first president to die in office.[5] His Vice President John Tyler, after initial hesitation, took the position that he had become the President automatically rather than "the Vice-President, now exercising the office of President,"[6] and thereby established a precedent which was subsequently followed until the Twenty-Fifth Amendment conclusively established that the Vice-President succeeds to the Presidency under the Constitution.[7]

In 1792, the Second Congress used its authority under Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 to provide for the succession to the Presidency in the event neither the President nor Vice President were able to perform the duties and powers of the office. Under the Succession Act of 1792,[8] the succession to the Presidency passed to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and then to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 1886, Congress changed the presidential succession to the heads of the cabinet departments in the order in which the departments had been established.[9] In 1947, Congress adopted the Presidential Succession Act,[10] which provided for the Speaker of the House to "act as President"[11] followed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and then by the department heads in the order in which each department had been established.

  1. See Twenty-Fifth Amendment Presidential Vacancy.
  2. Art. II, Sec. 1, Clause 6 Succession.
  3. Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 1 Presidential Vacancy ("In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President."). See also Twentieth Amend., Section 3 Succession ("If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice-President elect shall become President").
  4. Art. II, Sec. 1, Clause 6 Succession.
  5. C. Herman Prittchett, Constitutional Law of the Federal System 274-75 (1984).
  6. Id.
  7. Twenty-Fifth Amendment Presidential Vacancy.
  8. Act of Mar. 1, 1792, ch. 8, § 9, 1 Stat. 239, 240 (Succession Act of 1792).
  9. Act of Jan. 19, 1886, ch. 4, Pub. L. No. 49-4, 24 Stat. 1 (Succession Act of 1886).
  10. Presidential Succession Act of 1947, Pub. L. No. 80-199, 61 Stat. 380 (codified as amended at 3 U.S.C. § 19).
  11. Id., at § 19(1).