March 04, 2004

Some Guys Just Don't Know When It's Over. We've all known people who just couldn't or wouldn't see that an ex had moved on and that a relationship was over. In some cases, those folks become embittered drunks, in more severe cases, crazed stalkers. And occasionally, they become law professors at NYU.

Back in 2000, Stephen Gillers argued in a New York Times editorial that Bill Clinton should have remained President past January 6, 2001, for as long as it took for the Bush/Gore vote-counting issues to be definitively settled. Using an interpretation of the 20th Amendment, Gillers suggested that Congress declare that nobody had "qualified" for the office and keep Clinton as President until matters were settled.

Well, that didn't happen, of course, and Clinton left the White House, seemingly forever. But in another editorial in yesterday's New York Times Gillers was at it again, suggesting that Kerry's strongest option for a VP would be...Bill Clinton.

Now, you might be thinking that Clinton would simply be unable to hold the office, having already served two terms as President. To that, Gillers answers:
The Constitution does not prevent Mr. Clinton from running for vice president. The 22nd Amendment, which became effective in 1951, begins: "No person shall be elected to the office of the president more than twice."

No problem. Bill Clinton would be running for vice president, not president. Scholars and judges can debate how loosely constitutional language should be interpreted, but one need not be a strict constructionist to find this language clear beyond dispute. Bill Clinton cannot be elected president, but nothing stops him from being elected vice president.
Except...maybe...I dunno...the 12th Amendment, which states that "no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States." (Thanks to Dwayne Murphy on the Paul Katcher message boards for pinpointing this.) Now, I obviously can't claim to be a Constitutional scholar, so is there something very obvious I'm missing (is there really a difference between being eligible for the office and being eligible to be elected to the office?), or did Gillers and the Times just drop the ball here in an attempted groundswell to get their Clinton back?

Update: The Times has printed possible corroboration, and from another Goldstein no less!
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