Thursday, November 08, 2007


Hillary Clinton may win the Democratic Party’s nomination and go on from there to be elected President of the United States. If that happens, her husband, William Jefferson Clinton, who was President of the United States from 1993 to 2001 for two full terms, would once again be a principal occupant of the White House.

As Hillary’s spouse, not only exercising the normal substantial influence of one spouse over the other but also being in possession of eight years of actual experience in the Presidency, it would appear that Bill Clinton would thus once again effectively exercise Presidential Powers. Yet this would be in substantive violation of the Twenty-Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice . . . .”

True enough, Bill would not have been elected more than twice, and thus his presence and activities in the White House would not technically be in violation of the Constitution. But the obvious purpose of the Twenty-Second Amendment was to limit the occupation of the Office of President, and the exercise of the powers of that Office, to two terms. Its authors did not contemplate marriage as a route to the powers of the Presidency alternative to election to that Office.

If and to the extent that Mrs. Clinton’s chances of election increase, the couple needs to find a way to guarantee that Mr. Clinton would not in fact be a three or four-term President.

This article is copyright © 2007, by George Reisman. George Reisman is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics.