2003: Presidential Succession

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Presidential Succession
Ties are broken by whoever was closest to the surface of Europa when they were born.
Title text: Ties are broken by whoever was closest to the surface of Europa when they were born.

Explanation

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The United States presidential line of succession is the order of people who serve as president if the current incumbent President is incapacitated, dies, resigns, or is removed from office.

The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 was an act by the U.S. Congress that revised the presidential order of succession to its current order. This act, though never challenged in the courts, may not be constitutional for two reasons. First, it is unclear whether members of Congress can be designated in the line of succession. Secondly, the act allows for a cabinet officer to be "replaced" as acting President by a new Speaker of the House or a new President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

The full text of the Second Report of the Continuity of Government Commission can be found here: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/06_continuity_of_government.pdf

The first 6 members of Randall's list are included in the current line of succession. After the top 6, his list ranges from politicians, to actors who have played Presidents, to athletes.

Randall's list omits the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, as well as many other cabinet positions. Perhaps he does not find those people qualified to become President of the United States, and is concerned about the constitutionality of lawmakers becoming President.

This is another comic in the continuing line of comics about American politics, especially after the election of Donald Trump as President in 2016.

Order of succession

# Randall's order Current order by the 1947 Act Notes
1 President President
2 Vice president Vice president
3 Secretary of State Speaker of the House of Representatives
4 Secretary of Defense President pro tempore of the Senate
5 Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary of the Treasury
6 Attorney General Secretary of Defense
7 Five people who do not live in Washington DC, nominated at the start of the President's term and confirmed by the Senate Attorney General Unclear if these 5 people have to have any qualifications whatsoever.
8 Tom Hanks Secretary of the Interior Academy Award-winning American actor
9 State Governors, in descending order of state population at last census Secretary of Agriculture As of time of publishing, the last census was the 2010 U.S. Census. Link to state populations.
10 Anyone who won an Oscar for playing a governor Secretary of Commerce Oscars, or Academy Awards, are annual film awards awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
11 Anyone who won a Governor's award for playing someone named Oscar Secretary of Labor The Governors Awards are an annual award ceremony hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to present lifetime achievement awards within the film industry. As this award is a lifetime achievement award, it does not seem possible that an actor could win this award for simply playing someone named Oscar.
12 Kate McKinnon, if available Secretary of Health and Human Services Comedic actress famous for being a cast member on Saturday Night Live. She is known for her character work and celebrity impressions.
13 Billboard Year-End Hot 100 Singles artists #1 through #10 (for groups, whoever is credited first in name, liner notes, etc) Secretary of Housing and Urban Development The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the United States for singles, published weekly by Billboard magazine.
14 The top 5 US astronauts in descending order of total spaceflight time Secretary of Transportation
15 Serena Williams (or, if she lost her most recent match, whoever beat her) Secretary of Energy As of the time of publishing, Serena Williams was the top female tennis player (though not the world #1 ranking, because she took time off for pregnancy). She is arguably the greatest female tennis player of all-time, winning 39 Grand Slam titles, including 14 women's doubles titles.

If her most recent defeat was to a non-US player, it is unclear whether that person would still qualify for President.

16 The most recent season NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL MVPs Secretary of Education MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. The 4 listed leagues are the major sports leagues in the United States, the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Hockey League (NHL).

As of the time of publishing, the most recent MVPs for the listed sports are Russell Westbrook (NBA), Tom Brady (NFL), José Altuve and Giancarlo Stanton (MLB has two, one for the American League and one for the National League), and Connor McDavid (NHL).

17 Bill Pullman and his descendants by absolute primogeniture Secretary of Veterans Affairs American actor, known for playing President Thomas J. Whitmore in the 1996 film Independence Day.

Absolute primogeniture is a form of succession where the oldest direct descendant receives the title. This is contrasted to Male-preference primogeniture, in which females come before males in the order of the throne, whether the females were born first or not. This may be a reference to the British law Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which changed the order of the throne from male-preference primogeniture to absolute primogeniture. This act allows Princess Charlotte to retain her place in line before Prince Louis.

18 The entire line of succession to the British throne Secretary of Homeland Security Unsure if this is constitutional, or what the Founding Fathers would have wanted (a Brit sitting as U.S. President!). The complete list is here and includes 57 names, as of the time of publishing.
19 The current champion of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest None The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is an annual American hot dog competitive eating competition sponsored by Nathan's Famous held on July 4th. As of the time of publishing, the most recent men's winner is Joey Chestnut and the women's winner is Miki Sudo.
20 All other US citizens, chosen by a 29-round single-elimination Jousting tournament None Effective for a population up to 536,870,912 individuals (2^29), although additional rounds can be added should the population grow further.

The title text mentions whoever was closest to the surface of Europa when they were born. Europa is a moon of Jupiter, so most people would be very far from its surface when they were born. Alternatively, Randall could be playing on how Europa sounds like Europe.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
A proposal for a new presidential line of succession
Current politics aside, most experts agree the existing process is flawed. The presidential succession act of 1947 is probably unconstitutional on several counts, and there are many practical issues with the system as well.
(for more, see the surprisingly gripping Second Report of the Continuity of Government Commission, June 2009).
Proposed line of succession:
  1. President
  2. Vice president
  3. Secretary of State
  4. Secretary of Defense
  5. Secretary of Homeland Security
  6. Attorney General
  7. Five people who do not live in Washington DC, Nominated at the start of the president's term and confirmed by the Senate
  8. Tom Hanks
  9. State Governors, in descending order of state population at last census
  10. Anyone who won an Oscar for playing a governor
  11. Anyone who won a Governor's award for playing someone named Oscar
  12. Kate McKinnon, if available
  13. Billboard year-end hot 100 singles artists #1 through #10 (for groups, whoever is credited first in name, liner notes, etc)
  14. The top 5 US astronauts in descending order of total spaceflight time
  15. Serena Williams (or, if she lost her most recent match, whoever beat her)
  16. The most recent season NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL MVPs
  17. Bull Pullman and his descendants by absolute primogeniture
  18. The entire line of succession to the British throne
  19. The current champion of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest
  20. All other US citizens, chosen by a 29-round single-elimination Jousting tournament.
Title text: Ties are broken by whoever was closest to the surface of Europa when they were born.


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Discussion

Aw, but what about Morgan Freeman? 108.162.221.11 04:43, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

And Kiefer -designated survivor- Sutherland?141.101.104.83 08:24, 6 June 2018 (UTC)
Morgan Freeman> "I do solemnly swear / that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States..." Linker (talk) 12:39, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

Academy awards have been won by actors playing kings / queens - of England, the United Kingdom and Siam - Princes - of Denmark - and Prime Ministers of Great Britain and even the President of the Uniter States / Member of the house of Representatives, but I do not believe it has been won by an actor playing a state govenor. Mind you it is not clear if an actor playing a prison govenor, would count. Arachrah (talk) 11:30, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

Broderick Crawford, actually. I've added him. To the best of my ability to determine, the opposite group (Governors Award recipients who have played characters named Oscar) appears to be an empty set. I'll note that I don't have a really comprehensive filmography for Jean-Claude Carrière, but I consider it fairly unlikely that he ever played a character by that name. Squeamish Ossifrage (talk) 16:08, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

Bill Pullman's eldest daughter Maesa is a film composer with an IMDB page in her own right. Arachrah (talk) 11:30, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

Top 5 US astronauts? I only count three. Who are the other two? 172.68.150.76 12:15, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

As of September 3, 2017, the 5 US astronauts with the most total time in space are Peggy Whitson (665 days), Jeff Williams (534), Scott Kelly (520), Mike Fincke (382), and Mike Foale (374), according to https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-station-astronaut-record-holders. Michael Lopez-Alegria has the second-most time in space for a single spaceflight (215 days, compared to Scott Kelly, 340). The Dining Logician (talk) 12:59, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

Mike Foale was born in Louth - so ineligible. Michael Lopez-Alegria was born in Spain ditto Arachrah (talk) 15:26, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

Foale was born to an American mother and should hence be a natural-born American. --Ycthiognass (talk) 09:40, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
There is actually legal question about whether someone born on foreign soil to US citizens count as "natural-born" (or whether courts would just say it's a political question and pass the buck to Congress), though I will add Foale back to the list. 162.158.62.207 14:04, 7 June 2018 (UTC)

The non-US-citizen-being-in-line-for-the-Presidency thing has already been cleared up IRL - several Presidential cabinets have had non-natural-born-US citizens on them (current Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was born in Taiwan; in the past Madeline Albright was born in the then-Czechoslovakia). All the serious succession lists I've ever seen just list them and skip over them. 162.158.62.51 13:19, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

How do we decide who gets a bye in the jousting tournament? 162.158.74.147 13:30, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

Random draw, probably. There's no jousting rankings AFAIK to enable any kind of seeding like in tennis. 162.158.62.51 15:16, 6 June 2018 (UTC) There is a USA chapter of the International Jousting Association. I didn't spend enough time to track down a rankings list, but there are 3 levels of competition, which would be a start in seeding. To further seed I'd suggest using the Europa Tiebreaker.162.158.62.15 18:14, 18 June 2018 (UTC)

Anyone with a jousting ranking would not need a bye. Arachrah (talk) 15:26, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

Anyone else think it's interesting that Kate gets a "if available" but Tom Hanks doesn't? 172.69.62.184 16:23, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

Also, why doesn't Tom Hanks kids get to be in line, like Bill Pulman's? Colin Hanks is old enough. 162.158.122.210 03:59, 7 June 2018 (UTC)

I assume, but am too lazy to do all the maths, that the person born closest to Europa would be the one closest in time to the point Sun Earth and Jupiter are in line. I found a table of opposition distances here: http://www.ianridpath.com/jupiter.htm Arachrah (talk) 18:26, 6 June 2018 (UTC)That would seem to be the overwhelmingly dominant factor, the only other factors would be which side of the Earth someone is born on (up to 7915miles difference, or about 7 minutes of the Earth's orbit), and Elevation/Altitude,since as of yet no one has been born in space(citation required), this factor is trivial, equivalent to less than 1 second of Earth's orbit.162.158.62.15 18:14, 18 June 2018 (UTC)

All of this talk about where people were born is very misleading. The general opinion is that you have to have been a citizen from birth, not born in the U.S. (or a U.S. territory or whatever). Ted Cruz was born in Canada, but he would have been eligible had he won the nomination and the election. See http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2015/mar/26/ted-cruz-born-canada-eligible-run-president-update/ for discussion. —TobyBartels (talk) 20:56, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

  • Yes, Kate Brown (governor of Oregon) should be restored to Randall's line of succession, because she was born in Spain while her father was serving in the U.S. Air Force. Presumably she's a U.S. citizen by birth and thus eligible for the presidency. --172.68.150.52 22:44, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

I read #7 being that we would have 5 people as co-president. 162.158.122.210 03:59, 7 June 2018 (UTC)

Would that also hold for other entries where multiple people are listed (e.g., multiple league MVPs meet the criteria)? Also, there is the "ties broken by born closest to Europa" title text. 162.158.62.207 13:31, 7 June 2018 (UTC)

For the 'List of Specific Individuals', should it be maintained by who currently holds those positions, or left as who held them when the comic was posted? 172.69.70.71 12:14, 7 June 2018 (UTC)

If you want to come back and update the line as things change in the weeks, months, and years ahead, you're welcome to do so. If you do, I would recommend that both lists (the one accurate as of comic publishing and the one "updated") be maintained, perhaps as one table for fun comparison (adding blank spots as necessary if a current spot falls out of eligibility or a new one becomes eligible for whatever reason. 162.158.62.207 13:29, 7 June 2018 (UTC)

Tom Hanks is probably a reference to the June 4 Last Week Tonight episode, see http://time.com/5298479/john-oliver-last-week-tonight-guardianship/ 162.158.123.85 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Oh! Question regarding Serena Williams - does it count if her latest match was in a doubles tournament? She pretty much always teams up with sister Venus in doubles. 162.158.62.207 14:52, 7 June 2018 (UTC)

Anyone else curious about the apostrophe in "Governor's award"? The current notes imply that it is simply a mistake in "Governors Awards" (the Academy Awards similar to the Oscars), but Governor's awards (i.e., an award by a state Governor) for other areas are quite common (e.g. Clemson University Governor's Award for Excellence in Science and Pennsylvania's Governor's Award for the Arts). Rearranging Oscar and governor from the preceding criterion certainly makes sense, but wild speculation is always more fun... 172.68.211.28 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

1933: Santa Facts mentioned Santa being 9th in the presidential line of succession. 162.158.111.7 08:56, 8 June 2018 (UTC)

To me, #17 (Pullman and his descendants) seems to imply that we'd abolish the 4-year term and be presided by the Pullman clan for as long as there are eligible successors. #18 might imply that too. 162.158.74.21 20:14, 8 June 2018 (UTC)

Presidential elections are mandated in the Constitution every four years - Bill or any of his descendants, or any qualifying member of the UK royal line of succession, would only serve until the current term ends. (Whether a crisis that knocked so many people ahead of them out of the line would allow a reputable and accepted election is another story.) 173.245.52.139 15:37, 11 June 2018 (UTC)

I note that if Donald Trump wasn't already holding the office of President, he could only qualify from positions 7 and 20 on Randall's list. And not at all from the actual list. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 01:09, 10 June 2018 (UTC)

He wouldn't have been the only one - Obama's and JFK's previous job title before becoming President was US Senator, and Eisenhower was President of Columbia University. 173.245.52.139 15:37, 11 June 2018 (UTC)

There are two problems with this explanation: The line of succession applies only when the office of president becomes vacant. If the president is incapacitated, the vice president acts as president. If that office is vacant, or the vice precident is also incapacitated, the US will have to do without a president.

The constitution places no restrictions on who can act as president. The current law of succession stipulates that only those elegible to become president can act as president, the constitution does not. --162.158.134.154 08:30, 10 June 2018 (UTC)

Point 1, the office of President may be vacant but the powers of the Acting President execute the same by whomever the line falls to, and in times of crisis people will nearly certainly just consider them the new President (conflicting claims aside). Point 2 is just false - Article 2 of the Constitution stipulates natural-born citizen at 35 years old and having lived in the US for the last 14 years. Unless you're arguing that "President" and "Acting President" aren't the same? That sure as hell didn't stop John Tyler from refusing to acknowledge anyone who didn't acknowledge him as the new President after William Henry Harrison died a month into his term. 173.245.52.139 15:17, 11 June 2018 (UTC)
Point2: That is exactly what I am saying. Only the vice president can succeed to the presidency. The others would execute the powers of the president. What would most likely happen is that the acting president would appoint a vice president, who would succeed immediately when approved by congress.--162.158.134.34 07:50, 12 June 2018 (UTC)
Point 1: There would be no acting president. Only the vice president can become acting president when the president is incapacitated. This and the office of president being vacant are covered in entirely separate parts of the constitution. The line of succession applies only in the latter case.
Point 2: That was established in congressional legislation. Only the Vice President can become President when the President is incapcaitated, the rest act using the powers of the president but are not themselves the president.
The Queen

Shouldn't the Queen come before Charles of Windsor? She is 0th in the British succession line. 172.68.27.246 20:48, 17 June 2018 (UTC)

It would violate Royal Oath. Erkinalp (talk) 13:53, 19 June 2018 (UTC)

Since jousting can be a lethal sport (especially if you don't know what you're doing, or like, not wearing armor), I'm left to wonder if part of the whole single-elimination aspect of the competition, where EVERY American is participating, is basically a strategy to literally eliminate everyone there is to be subject to the government's rule (literally eliminate every citizen so the last one left alive is left to be in charge sort of thing) - Brettpeirce (talk) 18:10, 31 December 2018 (UTC)

172.69.135.184 07:43, 27 February 2019 (UTC) Foresee a problem with the Billboard Year End chart-toppers: What if a band has anonymous or pseudonymous members and/or deliberately avoids letting one of them assume leadership? What about the MVPs, should the awards not be given prior to the line of succession reaching them?

Updates to List of Individuals

Note that this list is supposed to be as of the date of the comic and should not be updated with changes due to events after that date. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 17:31, 5 January 2019 (UTC)