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Palin vs Biden: Role of the VP October 30, 2008

Posted by thestellaranomaly in Biden, Palin, Videos.

While Biden may appear to be the winner to the average viewer, Palin was and is without a doubt, RIGHT!

With all of the hysteria over Governor Palin’s wardrobe, her qualifications, her effect on the McCain campaign, and her transformation into a “rogue”, I thought this was a very important topic that’s been lost in all of the cacophony.  While this is a fairly old story by now, it could have served as great ammunition against Palin’s detractors who question her intelligence. 

According to  a Legal Times article entitled Will the Real VP Please Step Forward, by Adam J. White,

Even as the vice presidency increased in importance in more recent years, the office remained sufficiently enigmatic so that, more than 200 years after the Con­sti­tu­tion was ratified, the debate continues as to the constitutional role of the vice president.

Indeed, in the Oct. 2 debate between vice presidential candidates Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joe Biden, the moderator raised that very issue. Biden, a senator for more than 35 years and quite possibly our next vice president, answered without hesitation:

“[The vice president] works in the executive branch. . . . And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president . . . [and] to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there’s a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit. . . . He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he’s part of the legislative branch is a bizarre notion.”

Last week, Palin presented a slightly different picture. In answer to a child’s question, she said:

“A vice president has a really great job because not only are they there to support the president’s agenda, . . . [b]ut also, they’re in charge of the United States Senate, so if they want to, they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes.”

Palin’s answer has been viewed askance. Biden’s answer fairly reflects the modern conventional wisdom. And as a matter of constitutional text and history, Biden is certainly wrong.

The Vice President is an officer of the Senate and therefore, a part of the Legislative Branch! If I were Palin, I would have cited Article II, Section 1, which gives the vice president a major part in the counting of the Electoral College votes, something Biden failed to mention in his little diatribe.

White goes on to say,

The Constitution’s grant of exclusively legislative powers to the vice president is no accident. At the Con­sti­tu­tional Convention of 1787, the Com­mit­tee of Detail originally specified that the president of the Senate, then to be a senator himself, would stand ready to “exercise” the powers of the president upon the president’s death, resignation, removal from office, or incapacitation.

The office of Senate president was modified when a subsequent committee designed the Electoral College. As part of that change, the president of the Senate no longer was to be a senator. Instead, he was to be elected nationally and hold a new title, “Vice President.”

Nevertheless, while the title and method of selection changed, the powers of a vice president remained entirely legislative. As Roger Sherman observed at the Constitutional Con­ven­tion, “If the vice-President were not to be President of the Senate, he would be without employment.”

Palin should be vindicated on this point. She has far less experience than Biden, but understands the office of vice president better than he does. You’d think that a lawyer with thirty-five years of experience in the Senate would have a better handling of the Constitution. Just another reason why the Democrats Palin comparison to the Republicans , and why I’m just Biden my time until 2012!

P.S. I linked to the article earlier but you may have to register with the Legal Times to have access to it. But fear not, registration is simple and free!



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