Could Barack Obama Become Biden’s Veep? Well, It’s Complicated.
A Liberty University law professor told The Todd Starnes Show on Thursday that there are legitimate “arguments on both sides” as to whether former President Barack Obama is constitutionally eligible to be selected as a presidential running mate.
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“It takes a little bit of unpacking,” Professor Joseph J. Martins told Starnes. “The 22nd Amendment says that no person shall be elected to the office of the president more than twice.”
“Here’s the other part of the coin. The 12th Amendment says that no person who’s constitutionally ineligible to be president is eligible to be vice president,” Martins continued.
Martins – the director of Liberty’s Constitutional Litigation Clinic – weighed in on a 2015 Washington Post article which highlighted a different viewpoint from Cornell University professor Michael Dorf.
Summarizing Dorf’s argument, The Post writes:
“The 22nd Amendment doesn’t say you can’t be president for more than two terms. It says you can’t be elected president twice. If a Biden-Obama ticket won … and tragedy were to befall Joe Biden, Barack Obama could become president, according to the letter of the law … since he wasn’t elected to the position.”
“That’s correct,” Martins told Starnes. “I’ve seen the arguments on both sides.” Listen to his entire radio interview here.
However, Martins added that “you have to recognize, you’re looking at a constitution.”
“We have to look at the purposes behind each of these amendments, and every provision. Constitutions aren’t written like statutes, which are very, very specific and very prolix,” he added.
“And clearly, what Congress had in mind in the 22nd Amendment … they were trying to limit the entrenchment of one person getting executive power for multiple times in the office of the presidency,” Martins continued. “And the purpose of that amendment was to codify George Washington’s two-term tradition.”
Professor Martins noted that it is possible for a former president, “through the succession line, in some sort of emergency,” to “end up being president again.”
“But it’s a clear purpose here,” Martins reiterated, adding that Congress was clearly trying to follow Washington’s two-term standard. “We don’t want another FDR who wins three, four times, or more.”
Commenting on the current political climate, Martins said he believes an interesting question would arise if Democrat candidate Joe Biden were to perhaps select Obama as his running mate.
“If somebody did allegedly violate one of these eligibility requirements for vice president or president, who’s going to step up and file that lawsuit,” Martins asked. “Who would challenge that? Who has legal standing,” he asked.