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Sherman: Serious Flaws Exist in Our Succession Laws

Thirdly, the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 includes a provision allowing “prior entitled individuals” to “bump” an acting president, meaning if the secretary of State becomes acting president because the president, vice president and Congressional leaders have been killed, but the House then elects a new Speaker, that Speaker would become the new acting president and bump the secretary of State out of the presidency. This creates a game of musical chairs with the presidency and would cause great instability. In a time of national crisis, the nation needs to know who its president is. My bill eliminates the bumping problem.

In 1865, John Wilkes Booth not only assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, he plotted to kill the vice president and secretary of State as well. We must be prepared for the likelihood that Osama bin Laden, among other terrorists, may be more ambitious.

The foregoing scenarios may seem far-fetched and macabre, but in the nuclear age and the age of terrorism, our presidential succession laws must be as solid as the barriers surrounding the Capitol grounds.

Rep. Brad Sherman is a Democrat from California.

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