Heres a very interesting question from a Gambit Weekly reader:
First off, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading the Gambit Weekly as I feel it is one of the only publications that can truly give the reader the pulse of the city.
In National politics, referring to qualifications to be President of the United States, the constitution says: 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.
It, however, is remarkably silent on the issue of successors. What happens if they need a successor to the office and the next person in line is not a Natural Born Citizen? Even if the VP office has the same qualifications as the POTUS, one would not have to be a Natural Born Citizen to be a Representative (who could be Speaker of the House) or a Cabinet Member.
Thanks for a great question and for the kind words about Gambit Weekly. I consulted Gambits official New Orleans Know-It-All, Blake Pontchartrain, and heres what ol Blake told me:
There are currently 2 ineligible persons in the order of succession as established by Congress per the Constitution.
If the person next in order of succession is ineligible, then the next "qualified"
person in order of succession would be the President.
Here's the current order of succession and those who are ineligible:
The Vice President Dick Cheney
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
President pro tempore of the Senate1 Robert Byrd
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Attorney General Michael Mukasey
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne
Secretary of Agriculture Edward T. Schafer
Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez 2
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao3
Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson
Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff
NOTE: An official cannot succeed to the Presidency unless that person meets the Constitutional requirements.
FOOTNOTES: 1. The president pro tempore presides over the Senate when the vice president is absent. The president pro tempore is elected by the Senate, but by tradition the position is held by the senior member of the majority party. 2. Carlos Gutierrez was born in Cuba and is ineligible. 3. Elaine Chao was born in Taiwan and is ineligible.