Symposium article by: Jody C. Baumgartner
44 PEPP. L. REV. 561 (2017)
The vice presidency has undergone almost revolutionary change since its inception 227 years ago. Conceived as a convenient solution to a problem created by the Electoral College, the Vice President has only two constitutional functions—to serve as a successor to the President and as the President of the Senate. However, over the past sixty years, vice presidents have become increasingly part of and integral to American governance, and the last three (Al Gore, Dick Cheney, and Joe Biden) have been exceptionally active executive actors. What was once an all-but forgotten office is now an essential part of a president’s administration. These developments are, generally speaking, welcomed by political observers and analysts. However, they also raise important practical, legal, and normative questions moving forward. This Article begins by reviewing the emergence of the modern vice presidency and follows with an analysis of the current role of the office. Next, it examines the attributes, successes, and failures of modern vice presidents, focusing primarily on the tenures of Gore, Cheney, and Biden. Finally, it turns to some of the challenges vice presidents will face going forward, as well as the legal and normative questions that surround this new model of the vice presidency.