WASHINGTON — Question:
Could a former president, who has already served two terms, be named as Vice-President? For example, could President Barack Obama be named as Joe Biden's vice president?
No. The 22nd Amendment restricts a candidate from being elected to the presidency for more than two terms. The 12th Amendment dictates that a vice president can not be selected if they are not eligible for president.
This makes sense because they'd be next in line if a president resigns or dies in office.
The Constitution, 12th Amendment
The Constitution, 22nd Amendment
Gary Nordlinger, Adjunct Professor - The George Washington University
The Verify Team tackles questions, sent in by viewers, both big and small. Patrick Young from Indian Head, Md had the following question:
"I was wondering if President Barack Obama could become Joe Biden’s Vice President,” he said.
To tackle this question, the Verify Team relied on the U.S. Constitution, focusing on the 12th and 22nd Amendments. We also reached out to Adjunct Professor Gary Nordlinger for context.
The 22nd Amendment offers insights on who is eligible for the Presidency itself:
"No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term."
When it comes to our viewer's question, the most important line comes at the very top.
"No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice," it reads.
This line pretty clearly would restrict President Obama, or any other two-term president from running for a third term. But what about vice president? To get answers on that, the Verify Team turned to the 12th Amendment:
The 12th Amendment is lengthy, and provides a lot of important information, regarding the election process of the president and vice president. The most important line, in regards to our viewer's question, is as follows:
"No person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States,” it reads.
Gary Nordlinger, an adjunct professor at The George Washington University offered an important context.
"It’s been interpreted to say that the vice president has to have the same qualifications as the president," he said.
For example, a vice president must be at least 35 years old, and they must be born in the United States, just as a President must follow these requirements. Nordlinger said this likely applies to term limits as well.
"If anyone tried this," he said. "It would for sure end up at the Supreme Court. Because that’s who decides conflicts within the constitution.”