What Happens If Obama Is Not Eligible?

J.J. Jackson | November 28, 2008 

A lot of readers are asking what happens if it turns out that Barack Obama is indeed not really a natural born citizen of the United States as is required for him to be eligible for the presidency.  Many of you are thinking that this will mean that McCain will become the President by default but I do not think that this is true.

Based on the wording of the Constitution, Joe Biden would become President.

Article II, Section 1

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

If you read this entire section it clearly says that if the person elected president is not eligible or is removed from office because he is otherwise unable to serve, the duties fall to the vice-president who, in the old days was the person that received the second highest number of electoral votes but today receives the same number as the person elected president because they run as a unified ticket.

<modquote>And also Amendment XX states:

Section 3.
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified. *see mod note below</modquote>

Sorry to dash your hopes.

*Mod note: Mr. Jackson accidentally used the modquote feature to encase part of his post which made it invisible to users without moderator credentials.  I have edited this to make it visible.


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16 Responses to “What Happens If Obama Is Not Eligible?”

  1. Joe on November 29th, 2008 12:27 am

    For that section to be relevant, he would have to be the President, not the President Elect.

  2. Ted on November 29th, 2008 7:46 am

    On Dec 5 the Supreme Court will either allow or disallow the usurpation of both the Constitution and the Government of the United States — easily the most pivotal decision since our nation’s founding — and the silence of the news media is deafening (if not downright scary).

  3. LibertarianPrince (Moderator) on November 29th, 2008 7:58 am

    Joe,

    The Constitution does not distinguish between the president and the “president-elect”.

    Actually if you read the above sections it says, “In Case of the … Inability [of the President] to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office …” This is easily the same as if someone is elected who is found to be ineligible the duties would fall to the vice president elect.

    You may also want to note that Jeff said, “in the old days was the person that received the second highest number of electoral votes but today receives the same number as the person elected president because they run as a unified ticket.” This means that Joe Biden receives the same number of votes as Obama and if Obama is ineligible, Joe Biden becomes president based on electoral votes.

    SOrry, but as he said, “Sorry to dash your hopes.”

  4. Ms. Peacock on November 29th, 2008 8:49 am

    I agree LP. Jeff makes valid points. I don’t know what Joe is talking about.

    “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President…In Case of … his … Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.”

    It’s pretty clear that if Obama is not eligible then Biden, who is veep, becomes President based on this.

  5. Cool Handed on November 30th, 2008 4:08 pm

    I believe that what JJ is saying is right. The Constitution really does not make any distinction between a president and a president elect except in the statement that it is only the president who has the power when both coexist.

    It also does not say that someone who is ineligible cannot run for president, only that someone that does not meet the requirements cannot assume the office.

  6. J.J. Jackson (Admin) on December 1st, 2008 4:05 pm

    I’ve been following these comments and have a couple of my own. First, the constitution does indeed address the issue of the president elect counter to what some have claimed. Amendment XX Section 3 even specifically says that if the president elect fails to qualify that the VP elect assumes the preisency until a new president qualifies.

    Second, I had cited this in my draft but upon looking at the code, it appears I miss marked up this additional commentary and it is not showing up.

    Ron or LP if you would be so kind as to go in and change the tags to blockquotes from the hidden markup I accidentally inserted it would be appreciated as I cannot do it from where I am.

  7. RonniesRayGun (Moderator) on December 1st, 2008 7:04 pm

    I tried to do a couple things, but disabling the modquote feature and associated markup made private user side comments visible. Disabling markup in the post killed the blockquotes. So I made the modquote feature appear outside of the syntax by replacing the markups with regular characters.

    That fixed the problem.

  8. J.J. Jackson on December 2nd, 2008 1:00 pm

    Thanks Ron. Hopefully now everyone can see the complete post.

  9. Father Time on December 2nd, 2008 5:58 pm

    The twentieth amendment is clear. The President must “qualify” meaning that he must PROVE he is qualified (age, birth, etc.) A COLB is not proof that one was born in the United States and no elector worth their salt would cast a vote for Obama until he releases his actual birth certificate.

    What is so damning that it must be hidden? What I ask?

  10. dave nash on December 8th, 2008 11:08 am

    If it comes to be that Obama is constitutionally ineligible to hold office, I dont see how it could be possible for Joe Biden to become president. My thinking is as follows. If Obama is ineligible he was ineligible to run for office. Which would make his election constitutionally illegal. Since Biden was his running mate and the election of the president was illegal how can the election of the vice president be legal? Biden would not have been elected (he was already knocked out by popular vote). Would it not seem that there would need to be a new election with the Republican candidate and a new Democratic candidate?

  11. PinguMama (Sr. Moderator) on December 8th, 2008 11:38 am

    Dave that issue was already addressed. Art 1 states that electors vote for two people. Since Obama and Biden ran as a joint ticket (not the original way but how we do things now) both receive the same number of votes IF the electors vote Obama/Biden. Therefore Biden becomes president if Obama is not eligible.

    There is no prohibition against someone that is ineligible running or people voting for that ineligible person. The only prohibition is against the ineligible person becoming president.

  12. J.J. Jackson (Admin) on December 9th, 2008 7:04 am

    Actually amendment XII states:
    “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 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.” PM rather than just casting two votes, the electors must designate one for pres and one for vice-pres.

    So in essence the election of the vice-pres is independent of the election of the president which is why Biden becomes president IF Obama is found to be ineligible. Obama and Biden would still however have the same number of electoral votes (just one would be for veep and one would be for pres).

  13. Ron Burcicki on March 21st, 2009 5:35 pm

    i’am still not clear. does the vice pres need to be natural born if he assumes the pres postion?

  14. LibertarianPrince (Moderator) on March 22nd, 2009 6:44 am

    Since the president must be a natural born citizen in order for the vp to become the president he or she must also be natural born.

  15. Denise on August 11th, 2009 10:41 pm

    It just doesn’t make sense, if the President elect is ever found not to be a US citizen, the election is not legitimate, nor should everything he did be. Seems like another election would be in order, and BOTH candidates be vetted to ensure both are natural born

  16. Keith on April 25th, 2011 8:40 am

    So my question pertains to everything this illegitimate faux president has signed and all he has appointed. Would all military officers appointed by him suddenly lose their commissions, etc?

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