Fordham Law Review Online

The Presidential Succession Act at 75 | The 1947 Act and the Judiciary: Would the Courts Decide Who is President?

November 3, 2022

These remarks were delivered as part of the program entitled The Presidential Succession Act at 75:  Praise It or Bury It?, which was held on April 6, 2022, and hosted by the Fordham University School of Law. The Presidential Succession Act sets out the presidential line of succession and other procedures for situations in which the president and vice president have both died, resigned, been removed, or become unable to discharge the presidency’s powers and duties. The Act also addresses succession scenarios before Inauguration Day. In light of the statute’s seventy-fifth anniversary, this program explored relevant history and analyzed whether reform to the statute is needed.

In these remarks, Gregory F. Jacob, a Partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Member of the Continuity of Government Commission, considers the question of what the courts would and should do if there were a legal challenge to the Speaker of the House or Senate president pro tempore becoming acting president under the 1947 Act.  Jacob draws on legal issues that he encountered in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election when he served as counsel to Vice President Mike Pence.