“The Constitution gives the Vice President no executive powers; the Vice President’s only duties are to preside over the Senate and to become President if the serving President dies or leaves office.”
Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit recently shared some fun lessons about what a VP is and isn’t.
From his Substack:
DONATEMike Pence, Dick Cheney, and the Constitution
Mike Pence is arguing that the Vice President is a legislative, not an executive, officer. Mike Luttig has a piece in the NYT calling that crazy. (Link is to Josh Blackman’s blog post on same. Luttig’s piece is here, but it’s paywalled.)
Well, as it happens, I had a piece on the topic in the NYT over a decade ago, and I’ve also authored a piece in the Northwestern University Law Review on the topic, and I say he’s not crazy.
Nowadays, we tend to think of Vice Presidents – wrongly – as a sort of junior or co-President, but that’s not actually how it works at all. As I wrote in the Northwestern Law Review piece:
The Constitution gives the Vice President no executive powers; the Vice President’s only duties are to preside over the Senate and to become President if the serving President dies or leaves office. Traditionally, what staff, office, and perquisites the Vice President enjoyed came via the Senate; it was not until Spiro Agnew mounted a legislative push that the Vice President got his own budget line. The Vice President really is not an executive official. He or she executes no laws–and is not part of the President’s administration the way that other officials are. The Vice President cannot be fired by the President; as an independently elected officeholder, he can be removed only by Congress via impeachment.
In various cases involving the Executive power, the Supreme Court has placed a lot of weight on the question of whether an official can be fired by the President or not.
Traditionally, Vice Presidents have not done much, which is why the position was famously characterized by Vice President John Nance Garner as “[not] worth a pitcher of warm spit.”” That changed when Jimmy Carter gave Fritz Mondale an unusual degree of responsibility, a move replicated in subsequent administrations, particularly under Clinton/Gore and Bush/Cheney.
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