Loophole in the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ???

Note: Be sure to read the first two comments below my original post for the final answer to the question.


Most people think that the U.S. President can only serve 8 years (2 terms) as a result of the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which was ratified in 1951 after FDR had been elected President 4 times.  The intention of the amendment was clearly to limit the number of years a single person could serve as President; however, there is actually a big loophole in the amendment which would allow a popular politician to be President for much longer than 8 years.

Here is what the amendment actually says: “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 the President more than once.”

Note that the amendment only restricts how often a person can be elected President.  It says nothing about how often a person can be President.  This is the loophole.  As I suggested in a recent post, nothing in the Constitution or the 22nd Amendment would prevent Hillary Clinton from selecting Bill Clinton as her Vice President and he would become President if she died or resigned during her term. This would give him an additional 1-4 years as President beyond the 8 he already served when elected twice in his own right.

But the loophole could be abused even further. A popular politician could run as VP every 4 years with a different puppet President on the ticket who would quickly resign after taking office, giving the VP another 4 year term. This could be repeated as long as the politician remained alive and popular. The problem is that the amendment does not restrict how many times a person can be elected as Vice President.

Clearly, the writers of the amendment should have written something much simpler like: “No person shall hold the office of the President for more than a total of eight years.  Any person serving as President must immediately resign the office upon reaching this eight year limit.”

In case anyone thinks this is all idle chatter, consider how Vladimir Putin circumvented the Russian Constitution’s term limits by hand-picking Dmitry Medvedev as President who then announced that he would name Putin as his prime minister. The same thing could happen here in America some day.


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3 Responses to “Loophole in the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ???”

  1. Omar McGill Says:

    What about the 12th amendment saying that anyone being President cannot serve as Vice-President?

  2. rberlind Says:

    I think you are essentially right.

    What the 12th Amendment primarily did was separate the voting for President and Vice President to avoid repeating the situation that ocurred in the Presidential election of 1800 in which Jefferson and Burr each got 73 votes forcing the House of Representatives to choose the President even though the electors had intended Jefferson to be President and Burr to be Vice President.

    However, the last sentence of the 12th Amdendment states that “no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice–President of the United States.” I don’t interpet this as saying that a former President cannot be elected Vice President. However, it does imply that a President who had already served 2 terms (and is therefore ineligible to be elected President) could not be elected Vice President, which would close my loophole.

    The 12th Amendment would probably also prevent Hillary Clinton from selecting Bill Clinton as her Vice President because they are inhabitants of the same state, New York. I say “probably” because Bill Clinton could conceivably move to some other state a few months before the election and then claim that he was a resident of that state instead of New York. The fact that they are married would not appear to raise any constitutional issues.

  3. Quick 2 Slick Says:

    Yes i agree following your evidence on the 12th amendment.. Bill could not even be elected V.P. though because of his years served as pres. there are rules regarding him stepping up if somethign were to happen to Hilary, she could not have picked her husband because of his past accomplishments i.e. pres. she would have to pick someone else because his position to become pres. again would not be prominent but that’s just my thoughts coming from a 17 year old teen.

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