The Congressman Who Was Veep

If every dark cloud has a silver lining, then perhaps every silver cloud has a dark lining — and one drawback of welcoming Paul Ryan into veepdom is that conservatives would lose him in Congress, which, despite its low reputation, still remains kinda important as a branch of government. We need really good people there, too.

Or would conservatives actually lose Ryan at all? Here’s a (gently edited) message from my occasional e-mail correspondent Seth Barrett Tillman:

It has been reported that Ryan will appear on the ballot for both the VP spot and his current House seat.

You may remember that I argued circa 2008 that the Incompatibility Clause (U.S. Const. art. 1 s. 6 cl. 2) prevents a member of Congress only from holding an appointed or statutory office, not from holding an elected federal position (President or VP). In short, I argued that Senator Obama could — should he win the 2008 presidential race — keep his Senate seat.

The same principles would apply to Ryan – in theory, he could sit in the House and be VP.

Seth Barrett Tillman & Steven G. Calabresi, Debate, The Great Divorce: The Current Understanding of Separation of Powers and the Original Meaning of the Incompatibility Clause

Seth Barrett Tillman, Why Our Next President May Keep His or Her Senate Seat: A Conjecture on the Constitution’s Incompatibility Clause

Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash, Response, Why the Incompatibility Clause Applies tothe Office of President

Constitutional or not, this idea strikes me as politically tone-deaf — but smarter people may disagree.

John J. Miller — John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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