Symposium article by: Vikram David Amar

44 PEPP. L. REV. 623 (2017)

The public perception of the Vice President is that of an individual with little actual authority, but who has the potential to be thrust into the most powerful office in the world.  But the modern Vice President has additional responsibilities that many often forget.  Contrary to public perception, the Vice President’s role as President of the Senate carries important Constitutional responsibilities, such as the ability to weigh-in with tie-breaking votes in the Senate or preside over impeachment trials.  Though overlooked, these are important and powerful responsibilities.  Additionally, the Vice President has assumed the role of Presidential “running mate” and with it the ability to influence a voter’s choice.  In a system where voters are allowed to split their ballots for every other position, forcing them to vote for President and Vice President together is an anomaly.  Furthermore, the modern Vice President has often assumed the role of Presidential copilot, taking responsibility for broad policy areas.  Although this responsibility is conferred at the President’s discretion, it is a reflection of the evolving recognition that the Vice President is an important member of the executive team and potentially a future President.  Lastly, the Vice President has the potential to cement the sitting President’s legacy.  For a President limited by two terms, a handpicked successor can secure and extend policies beyond a single administration.  Taken together, these responsibilities reveal that being Vice President is worth more than many would think.

 

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