Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chris Matthews To Palin: Read The Constitution About Role Of VP

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  • 1 comment:

    Nick said...

    As Mr. Nixon used to say, let me say this about that:

    The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

    The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States.

    So, there you have it. Mrs. Palin is correct if we understand this to mean that the Vice-President may preside over the Senate whenever he or she wishes. Typically this is not done because the Senate has a President pro tempore, a role which is itslef often delegated.

    We should recall - and I find it hard to believe that Mr. Matthews would not have known this - that under the original election scheme put forth in the Constitution there were not "running mates" as we now conceive of them. Originally, the Vice-President was the person who got the second greatest number of electoral votes:

    In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President.

    This was a further brake against a runaway executive branch. Imagine if Obama won the Presidency and McCain ended up being President of the Senate, or vice versa. You get the picture.

    I wish we could all have an adult and more nuanced conversation about this. One could argue that when the original election clause was superseded the Vice President's senatorial powers ought to have been modified, but such was not the case. Still, the fact remains that, strictly speaking, Mrs. Palin is correct and this fact was once taught to all and known by all. it is absolutely not correct that the only legislative role of the Vice President is to break ties.

    And yes, before anyone asks, I am a lawyer.