As the subject is in the air, it occurs to me to ask how long a US president would serve if he came to office by reversing in a court the result of an election some way into the term of his opponent ?

My impression is that the election has to happen at fixed intervals, and if so that means that the "court-imposed" president would only have a short period in office before the next election has to happen.

Is there any law, precedent or convention on this ?

  • 1
    Courts can't reverse an election at most they would declare the election invalid and have it run again.
    – Joe W
    Aug 3 at 2:41
  • @JoeW That's hotly disputed (although I find it a very unlikely thing), I'm simply asking if there is any law, etc. covering what happens if such a thing did occur.
    – StephenG
    Aug 3 at 2:46
  • 1
    Are you talking about all the conspiracy theories that say Trump is getting back in office?
    – Joe W
    Aug 3 at 2:54
  • 2
    There is no precedent for a presidential election to change after all 51+ elections are done, the electoral college votes and congress confirms the vote. You can do a quick search of past presidents and see that one has never left office early outside of death or resignation. As presidential elections are spelled out in the constitution they are not treated like other elections
    – Joe W
    Aug 3 at 3:01
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    @StephenG I didn’t downvote, but I’d guess it’s partly political and partly because the question presumes something effectively impossible under the current order of things. Kind of like asking how long a President appointed by the Prime Minister of Canada would serve after they invaded. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but it presumes such a fundamental change that nothing currently known could inform it.
    – Bobson
    Aug 4 at 14:38

This will never happen and a court will not be able to over turn the 51+ presidential elections + electoral college + congress confirming the vote. The constitution spells out how the election is decided and it is based on the electoral college not the votes in each state.

Anyone who is claiming the election can be overturned after all that happens is just spouting conspiracy theories.

It should be noted that every states electoral college could chose someone besides the popular vote winner in that state and it would follow the constitution. State laws may require them to follow the popular vote but the constitution does not.


The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; -- The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; -- The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.-- The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

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    I take issue with calling it a "conspiracy theory". A faked moon landing or smoky backroom players are feasible. This is just dishonesty preying upon constitutional ignorance and is trivial to prove.
    – dandavis
    Aug 3 at 7:25
  • I also take issue with calling it a 'conspiracy theory'. They are better termed 'conspiracy hypotheses', 'conspiracy claims' or the like. 'Theory' puts it on the same level as scientific theories which is ludicrous.
    – Jan
    Aug 3 at 12:24
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    @dandavis Considering all the ridiculous claims that have been made such as bamboo paper to show that ballots were mailed in from china to steal the election among various other claims. Not to mention that the claims that started well before the election that the only way Trump could lose was election fraud. With claims like that I don't see how it can't be considered a conspiracy theory that started before the first ballot was cast.
    – Joe W
    Aug 3 at 12:32
  • @dandavis Trump being the real president is about as conspiratorial as the moon landing being fake
    – user253751
    Aug 4 at 13:49

There is no precedent in the United States regarding a court removing a President from office.

All previous Presidential successions, including the 2021 succession from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, have followed the rules laid out in the Constitution for such, whether that's been due to a regular election, a death, or a resignation. Though no President has yet been successfully impeached and convicted, even in that case the Constitution sets clear expectations for who would become President and how long they would serve.

If the Supreme Court (or any other court) attempted to remove a sitting President and install another (due to purported election malfeasance or any other reason), we would then be operating so far outside of Constitution Land that the most likely actual answer to the question "how long would the new President serve?" would be: "it depends on the outcome of the resulting civil war".

  • This election followed the rules set out in the constitution a well
    – Joe W
    Aug 3 at 14:06
  • Yes it did. Added language clarifying that to the answer.
    – ATCOlogy
    Aug 4 at 12:15

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