What to Do If Simultaneous Presidential and Vice Presidential Inability Struck Today

By Roy E. Brownell II

Dual incapacity is one of three major inability scenarios involving the Vice President that threatens the continuity of the executive branch. The current state of the law in this area, unfortunately, leaves only imperfect options for policymakers. This Article proposes that, in the event of a dual inability, the Speaker, the President pro tempore of the Senate, and the Cabinet should meet and then jointly declare that the Speaker is Acting President until either the President or Vice President regains capacity. At the same time, the Speaker—as the new Acting President—the President pro tempore, and the Cabinet should request that Congress ratify their decision and the process they undertook to reach that determination.