10

In the United States, if the president is removed for any reason (death, impeachment, resignation), the Presidential Line of Succession would describe who is president next.

But if one of those people does not want the job, can they refuse it?

If the Vice President prefers being the Vice President, can he just pass the job to the Speaker of the House? (And still remain Vice President?)

Could the Speaker pass the job to President Pro Tempore of the Senate?

  • 6
    It would be a curious situation if people could be made President against their will... – user11249 Jan 17 '17 at 21:39
  • 3
    In the case of the VP, his ONLY Constitutionally mandated duty is to take over for the president. So its reasonable to believe that he has agreed to it by accepting the position of VP and taking the Oath of Office. Therefore, he may be unable to refuse? – abelenky Jan 17 '17 at 21:48
  • 2
    It hasn't come close to happening. If it happens, it would likely be decided in the Supreme Court. – Panda Jan 17 '17 at 23:13
  • 3
    @Carpetsmoker - The VP cannot be made president against his will: he always has the option to resign his position altogether. – jalynn2 Jan 18 '17 at 17:54
  • @jalynn2: Right, but my question is more about if he can decline the Presidency, and choose to remain VP? Or is he elevated to President against his will, leaving him as President-or-Nothing? – abelenky Jan 18 '17 at 19:04
9

Yes

In the Presidential Succession Act, the law says that each person becomes President...

upon his resignation [from their previous role]

Any given person could choose not to resign from their current duties, and thus would be disqualified from being President. Disqualification is a valid reason to skip someone in the line of succession.

Additionally, there are provisions for un-skipping someone. A lower-level successor can be supplanted by a higher-level successor if they become eligible to be President. For example, if the Speaker of the House chooses not to resign from the House than they "fail to qualify as Acting President" (in the Act's words). At this point the Secretary of State becomes President. If the Speaker later changes his mind, the act allows him to replace the Secretary of State as President.

This interpretation of the law is confirmed by the Congressional Research Office.

  • 1
    After re-reading the question, I'll add a section to address the Vice Presidency. I believe it's the only case where the person can't opt-out. – indigochild Jan 18 '17 at 21:55
  • Why wouldn't the vice president be able to opt out? – phoog Jan 19 '17 at 5:25
  • So if we have someone in the succession who isn't eligible due to age they could be skipped, then 5 months later on their birthday they could oust the current president because their now eligible? Can you imagine being the president who knows he will be fired in 5 months? – dsollen Jul 3 '18 at 15:05
  • The skipping most often comes up in that the President and Vice President must be citizens by Birth where as every office in the line below that must be Naturlized Citizens (i.e. they came here from another country and became legal citizens). If a naturalized citizen is in an office that is in line for succession, he or she will be skipped indefinately. The current Sec. of Transport is skipped for this reason. They are also ineligible for being the Designated Survivor (the person who doesn't get to go to the State of the Union to prevent all Cabinet officers from being killed. – hszmv Jan 18 at 15:24
-1

Actually, if one of the Cabinet members can be proven not sound of mind, the next person in the Line of Succession can take the reins and so on and so forth.

  • 3
    Can you provide a reference to back up the claim? – Alexei Jun 30 '18 at 4:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .