Little-known constitutional provision complicates Trump's VP deliberations

By Sarah May on
 May 6, 2024

Speculation continues to swirl about the pool of potential candidates to serve as Donald Trump's running mate, but it now appears that some rumored front-runners may bump into a constitutional obstacle they did not anticipate.

As the New York Post reports, a provision in the 12th Amendment prohibits electoral college voters from casting ballots for the top two positions in the executive branch from their home state, something which could impact a number of potential VP prospects.

12th Amendment hurdle emerges

The Poynter Institute explains that the thought behind the aforementioned notion was to prevent large states from possessing unduly outsized influence on presidential elections and to promote a sense of national unity.

However, in more recent times, the concept has proved to be a cumbersome hindrance, in the eyes of some.

The issue in terms of the 2024 race is the fact that a number of those floated as potential Trump VP picks reside in Florida, as does the presidential candidate himself.

Among those living in the Sunshine State who have been the subject of vice-presidential speculation are Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Republican Rep. Byron Donalds.

“A residency problem”

Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has acknowledged the situation, at least as it relates to Rubio, as The Bulwark has noted.

“Marco has this residency problem,” Trump has reportedly said, and potential solutions to the situation are viewed as cumbersome, if not downright problematic.

It has even been suggested that Rubio could relocate outside of Florida during campaign season while still serving in the Senate, though most believe such a strategy would trigger an immediate legal challenge.

Donalds, also burdened by the same issue as Rubio, has remarked on the problem only to note, “we can cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Few workarounds available

The 12th Amendment concern reared its head back in 2000, when Dick Cheney, George W. Bush's desired -- and eventual -- running mate, relocated from Texas back to his home state of Utah as a means to evade the prohibition.

Such a solution, however, seems improbable for those currently under consideration for the role, as George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley has explained.

“Sen. Rubio does not have a viable Cheney option. Cheney had strong contacts with Wyoming after representing the district in that state in Congress,” Turley said, and it also seems highly implausible that DeSantis, the governor of Florida, would be willing to leave the state for a potential VP slot.

Trump could perhaps skirt the issue entirely by selecting a candidate with no residential ties to Florida, such as North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, whose stock in the veepstakes is reportedly rising, as The Hill suggests, but whether such an outcome is remotely likely, only time will tell.

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