Many Trump VP Candidates May Face Ineligibility Under Obscure Constitutional Rule

 May 5, 2024

The U.S. Constitution's 12th Amendment could dramatically narrow the field of potential vice-presidential candidates for former President Donald Trump in the 2024 election cycle. All of the primary contenders, including Trump himself, currently reside in Florida, potentially violating a little-known constitutional clause.

The 12th Amendment prohibits electors from voting for both a president and a vice president from their home state, the New York Post reports. 

The 12th Amendment was ratified in 1803 to prevent electoral dominance by larger states and to foster national unity by encouraging a geographically diverse executive ticket. This provision is now posing a significant hurdle for Trump as he considers his options for a running mate.

Possible candidates impacted by this requirement include Senator Marco Rubio, Representative Byron Donalds, and Governor Ron DeSantis, all of whom reside in Florida. Trump has publicly mentioned concerns about Rubio's eligibility due to this Amendment.

Marco Rubio Considers a Temporary Relocation

Rubio has hinted at a potential temporary move from Florida as a workaround to this constitutional obstacle. Such a switch, however, could attract legal challenges, complicating his selection. Rubio himself has stated being "honored" to be considered for the vice-presidential spot, despite the potential legal hurdles.

Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University School of Law explained that the underlying rationale for this Amendment is to "avoid the concentration of such power in any single state." This illustrates the intention behind the law to distribute political power more evenly across the U.S.

Meanwhile, Byron Donalds, a congressman since 2021 and another potential candidate, appears less focused on the implications of the 12th Amendment. Donalds has expressed a relaxed outlook on the issue, suggesting it's a bridge to be crossed if necessary.

DeSantis and Trump's Discussion

Ron DeSantis is another major figure affected by this clause. Despite pledging his "full and enthusiastic support" for Trump, DeSantis has maintained that he is not pursuing the vice president role. Both Donalds and DeSantis would need to consider relocating out of Florida to avoid constitutional conflicts, which could involve resigning from their current roles.

In a similar scenario in the year 2000, Dick Cheney changed his residency from Texas to Wyoming to meet the requirements of the 12th Amendment for his vice-presidential candidacy alongside George W. Bush.

This decision was upheld by a federal court, setting a precedent that might influence current discussions.

The move to change Trump's residency from Florida back to New York has been discussed as a potential solution but is considered unlikely due to various factors. "It’s legally and politically complicated," one Trump insider remarked, emphasizing the difficulties in maneuvering around the constitutional requirement.

Legal and Political Implications of VP Selection

The issue of residency is shrouded in both legal and political complexities. As Trump and his team contemplate the selection of a vice presidential candidate from the same state, they face a scenario that challenges traditional running mate selection strategies.

This complex situation is exacerbated by the high-profile nature of the individuals involved and the potential for their decisions to set precedents in U.S. political norms. The implications of these choices could resonate well beyond the 2024 election cycle, affecting future electoral strategies and constitutional debates.

In conclusion, as the 2024 presidential election approaches, the Trump campaign must navigate the intricate legal landscape posed by the 12th Amendment. The amendment's residency clause not only restricts Trump's choices for a vice-presidential candidate but also ignites a debate on constitutional interpretation and its impact on modern electoral strategies. All potential candidates, particularly Rubio, Donalds, and DeSantis, must weigh significant legal and residency considerations in their political calculations, with Trump's strategic decisions likely to be under intense scrutiny.

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