The vice president of the United States of America is the second highest executive officer of the government of the United States of America and the deputy to the President of the USA.
The Vice-President must meet all the qualifications of President since he may succeed to the Presidency in the event of the President’s death, resignation or removal. The framers of the Constitution might have omitted the Vice-Presidency but when the method of electing the President through the medium of Electoral College was decided upon, it became necessary to provide for an office the incumbent of which should succeed to the Presidency without delay.
It would office of the President vacant until new electors could be chosen and they had chosen the President. But even when the office of the Vice-President had been created, the framers were not too enthusiastic about it. Benjamin Franklin took the position so slightly that he proposed to have its holder addressed as His Superfluous Highness.
This is, in fact, an apt description John Adams, the first to hold the office of Vice President, lamented to tn wife My country has its wisdom, contrived for me the most significant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.
Thoma Jefferson, his successor, said something more apparent and meaningful than he realized when, he described the second office of government as honorable and easy, the first as but; splendid misery. The rise of the political parties and the Jefferson-Burt episode and the consequent adoption of the Twelfth Amendment fur there contributor ted to the decline of the office of thy Vice President.
It is an office of obscurity and not glory and it is rarely occupied by a man for whom the majority of the people would have voted as a candidate for the Presidency. Even the potential importance of the Vice President a heir-apparent to the President, and ten had succeeded it in 185 years, had not been sufficient to attract leading political figures to seek it as a matter of course.
Most men of ability and ambition, observes Clinton Rooster, would still rather be a leading Senator or Secretary of State than Vice President, even after all the good and exciting times that Richard Nixon has had. The Vice Presidency is, therefore, than Office unique in its functions or rather lack in its functions.
Woodrow Wilson described the position of the Vice-President as one of anomalous insignificance and curious uncertainty. Franklin Roosevelt said that he would rather be Professor of History than Vice-President. John Nance Garner, who was Roosevelt’s running mate in 1932 and 1936, described the post as no worth a pitcher of warm spit. Thomas R. Mar shall, who was Vice-President under Woodrow Wilson, described himself as a man in a cataleptic fit, who is conscious of all that goes on but has no part in it. Such are the dimensions importance of the Vice-Presidency and impotence is the mark of a second class office.
Mode of Election:-
The Vice-President is elected in the same way as the President and according to the original provisions of the Constitution (Article 2, Section 1, Ch, 2) the man getting the highest number of votes next to the President-elect was declared the Vice-President of the United States. The Twelfth Amendment changed the method of election, The electors have now to vote separately for the president and the Vice-President. There are two considerations which govern the choice of a candidate for this office.
First, he would not be from the same geographical district as the Presidential candidate. If the President is from the Middle West, the Vice President will be from the East, and vice versa. Wilson was from New Jersey; Marshall from Indiana. Harding came from Ohio; Coolidge from Massachusetts, Franklin D. Roosevelt came from New York; Garner from Texas.
Second, by no means so strictly applied, hat the candidates for the office of President and Vice-President shall represent different wings of he party. In 1940 Henry Wallace of Iowa was limited with Franklin Roosevelt, and Charles McNary of Oregon with Wendel Wilkie of New York and Indiana. For the election of 1944 Roosevelt designated Harry Truman-of Missouri as his running-mate.
Functions and Duties:-
The Constitution-makers thought it desirable to give the Vice President something to do asides the death, resignation, incapacity, or removal of his chief. The Constitution, accordingly, ordains that he should preside over the sessions of the Senate. Even as a presiding officer the Senate his responsibilities of office are not eat. The Senate is a body with customs and additions that the presiding officer must respect id accept. He votes only in case of a tie and in other matters plays an impartial role. The senate refused to accent, in fact it refused to listen Militantly, to the proposal of Vice-President awes who tried to modernize the House. The suit is that a vigorous man gets restive under each conditions; his frustration is noticed and the prestige of office degenerates accordingly.
During recent years, however, the potentialities of the office have been demonstrated. resident Harding associated Vice President with Cabinet work. Franklin Roosevelt trusted many responsibilities to Henry Walce, Although less close to Roosevelt in outlook, Truman was able to help the President with Congressional problems. The Vice-President, as Roster says, has experienced something of a renaissance under Truman and Eisenhower.
Alben Barkley was probably the most distinguished man nominated for the office since John C. Calboun and he proved extremely useful to Truman as a link to Congress. In 1949, the Vice president was made by law a member was the busiest Security Council. Richard Nixon was the busiest and most useful Vice-President in memory. Eisenhower believed that no President in the et could relegate the Vice-President to its he stand by status in the government. He showing path that the Vice-President must be a working member of the administration, fully informed every detail.
He deputed Nixon on an itinerary of Latin America, the Middle East countries, India and Pakistan, and the extent of the economic and military aid given by the United States to Pakistan was largely based upon his report, Nixon sat by. invitation in the Cabinet and even presided over some Cabinet meetings in the absence of President Eisenhower. Vice-President Johnson in the Kennedy administration continued in the Nixon attempt, with assignments overseas and chairmanship of several inter-departmental Committees.
Johnson was also Kennedy’s counselor as a member in the Ex Com of the National Security Council, an ad hoc group of a dozen top administration officials who aided the President in working out his responses to the 1962 Cuban crisis. Hubert H. Humphrey was used for numerous political and diplomatic assignments.
President elect Jimmy Carter deeply involved Walter Mondale during the transition period in setting up the administration, joining in the interviewing and selection of Cabinet members and frequently advising on foreign policy. He received the same Central Intelligence briefings as Jimmy Carter.
The President told his cabinet that Mondale was his chief staff person and added that all White House staff had been instructed that he is their boss. The Vice-President had an office in the White House, close to the President, with special areas of responsibility, such as crime and to represent the President abroad as well as working with the Senate and House of Representatives. Mondale had become a partner in administration. But George Bush, under Reagan, did not enjoy that enviable position and authority.
The New look which Eisenhower gave to the office was intended to give to the Vice-President training at least with the major national and international policies so that if he is compelled to take over the White House may be able to steer through domestic problems and international complexities. Truman said, It is a terrible handicap for a new President to step into office and be confronted with a whole series of critical decisions without adequate briefing. But the powers of the Vice-President are only potential; authority comes to him only with the demise or other incapacity of the President. So far as the office of the Vice-President itself is concerned, it IS up to the each future President to make whatever can be made of this disappointing office. In all, the Vice-President has been chiefly useful to the President by relieving him of ceremonial duties and making goodwill journeys abroad.
Succession to Presidency:-
Ten Vice-Presidents have so far succeeded to the Presidency and nine in the event of death during their terms. The tenth Gerald Ford succeeded on Nixon’s resignation. The Constitution provides: In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of his said office the same shall devolve on the Vice-President.
This provision does not give the Vice President any constitutional right to assume the title of the President. It simply provides that the duties and powers of the Presidential office shall devolve upon the Vice-President. But John Tyler, the Vice-President to fill a vacancy, took the title of the President for all practical purposes and did not differentiate himself in position and powers from the regularly elected holders of office. His example has since been followed. According to the Twenty second Amendment a man succeeding to the Presidency and serving more than two years may be elected President in his own right only once.
No case of Impeachment has made a vacancy fora Vice-President. Nor had there been an occasion on which the inability to discharge the powers and duties on the part of the President may have resulted into the moving up of the Vice-President. President Garfield was physically unable for more than two months in 1881 to perform any important official work. President Woodrow Wilson was similarly incapacitated for a considerably long time during the latter part of is second term.
Even absence from the United states for months together, as it happened during the terms of office of Woodrow Wilson, Frank Roosevelt and Harry Truman, did not constitution inability to discharge the duties of President This is for two reasons. In the first place, neither, the Constitution, till the Twenty-fifth Amendment became law on February 10, 1967, no, the laws provided who was competent to determine and under what circumstances a President might be considered unable to discharge his duties
Secondly, there had been extreme reluctance on the part of even ailing Presidents and their far lies to surrender authority. The result was that the question of succession to Presidency, except in case of death, remained obscure.
The Twenty-fifth Amendment provides that the Vice-President would take over the duties – and responsibilities of the Presidency:
- If the President states in writing to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House that he is unable to carry out his duties, and
- If the Vice-President and a majority of the Heads of Executive Departments believe that there is Presidential disability and send to Congress a declaration to that effect.
But, in such an eventuality, it is only in his acting capacity that the Vice-President takes over the office of the President. When the President resumes office after the incapacity does not exist, he reverts to his original office of Vice-President.
If, however, the Vice-President and a majority of the principal officers of the Executive Departments inform in writing to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives that the President was unable to discharge the duties of his office, Congress then decides whether the President was unable or not to discharge his duties. If it decided that incapacity still existed the Vice-President continues to remain the Acting President otherwise the President shell resume the duties of his office.
President Reagan after he was shot and operated upon for a major chest surgery with a creaked seventh rib and who needed two tubes to drain liquid from his lungs, still remained the effective President and conduced business from a hospital suit. How well did he fulfill his many presidential function some of which could be very arduous calling for long hours of continuing activity and that too al the age of 70 is a big question mark.
Succession to the Presidency in the event of both the offices of the President and the Vice -President having fallen vacant is covered by the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. In such an unhappy event, the law provides that the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall, upon his resignation as Speaker and as Representative in Congress, act as President. If there is no Speaker, or if the Speaker fails to qualify as Acting President, then President pro tempore of the Senate shall, upon his resignation as President pro tempore and as Senator, act as President.
If there is no Speaker or no President pro tempore or if neither is qualified, as for example, neither is a natural born citizen, the line of succession then runs down through the cabinet to the first of its members not under disability to discharge the powers and duties of the office of the President. Such a man would be an acting President until a Speaker or President pro tempore had qualified to take over. There is no provision for a special election.
The Presidential Succession Act, 1947, has been a subject of criticism. It has been contended that the Speaker and the President pro tempore may not be of the Presidential stature and may even belong to the Party in opposition to the late President. But the most weighty criticism is that both the Speaker and President pro tempore are likely, since seniority has much to do with their selection to be too old to carry the burden of the White House.
Following the assassination of John Kennedy, when Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President on November 22, 1963, John W. McCormack, the Speaker of the House, was nearly seventy-two, and Senator Carl Hayden, the President pro tempore, was eighty-six.
It has, therefore, been suggested that the Succession Act of 1947 needs a revision. Alternatives recently discussed include holding a special election, reassembling of the members of the Electoral College to choose a Vice-President, returning to the old form of having the cabinet officers beginning with the Secretary of State succeed, and having the former Vice-President designate a successor, with the consent of the Senate or of the whole Congress. One of these, or some variant, it has been pointed out, is likely before long to replace the present order of succession.