Wednesday, April 16, 2003

25th Amendment of US Constitution Misguided

I noticed this because of last night's episode of '24' where a section in the 25th amendment of the U.S. Constitution is being invoked by the Vice President on the show. The character wants to remove the President from power. I got to looking at the amendment and I think it's a poor amendment to have in the U.S. Constitution; worse than the maybe the 18th which was repealed in the 21st anyway. The 25th amendment gives the Vice President of the United States too much power and I think it needs to be rewritten to give that power to someone else. The first section states that when there is a vacancy in the Presidency, the position will be assumed by the Vice President. Even scarier (and the one that is being used in this television show) the fourth section of this amendment gives the Vice President a leverage (albeit a very difficult one to manage) to remove the President from power. That's too much power for a mere sidekick!

In our elections, the role of the Vice President is a very minor one. Officially, he (or she) serves as the President of the Senate which basically means he casts the deciding vote when there is a tie in the Senate. How often does that happen? The candidate's main and unofficial role is actually to help win the ticket for the President in an election. The Vice Presidential candidate is picked to bring in the votes on an election which means not so much emphasis is placed on whether or not he's fit to lead the country. Personally, I think the second in line for the Presidency should be the Secretary of State, not the Vice President. Some might say it is ludicrous because the Sec. of State is not an elected official, that he's appointed by the President as are all members of the President's cabinet, and we can't have a non-elected official become President. I would say consider a couple of things. First, the Sec of State is already 5th in line to succeed the President should the four people above him not be able to take the position. So there is precedent to allow a non-elected official to take office. Second, in a situation where the position of President needs to be suddenly filled outside of an election, it's probably a desperate measure that needs a desperate action. Would you want a person who was picked on his looks or home state to assume that role or would you rather have someone who was appointed by our leader because they have the skills and knowledge to run our country in some fashion.

So take away the Vice President's power in the 25th amendment of the United State Constitution. He's the election whore and not much more. (Hey that's a good rhyme for a picket sign... and so is that!) If it turns out that the Vice President has the skills to be able to run the country, then let him run in the next election so that he may pick a flunky to serve by his side.

For those of you interested in the right of succession for the United States Office of the President, it is as follows:

Speaker of the House of Representatives
President pro tempore of the Senate
Secretary of State
Secretary of Treasury
Secretary of Defense
Attorney General
Postmaster General
Secretary of the Interior
Secretary of Agriculture
Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Labor

This succession was established by an Act of Congress on July 18, 1947.