Pre-Presidential Succession

Addressing the question of what to do if the presidency changes hands and both the incoming president and vice-president are killed before choosing a cabinet, Eugene Volokh comments on an interesting suggestion from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex):

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, proposed an interesting Senate resolution: A nonbinding agreement (it probably can’t be made binding, given the President’s and the Senate’s broad constitutional powers in this area) that the outgoing President appoint, and the Senate confirm, some of the incoming President’s Cabinet picks before Inauguration Day. This would of course work best with a revision of the Presidential Succession Act (at least to remove the Congressional officials from the line of succession), which Sen. Cornyn would also favor; and it would surely still leave lots of other problems in any event. Still, I’m glad some people are thinking about this, and that a Republican Senator is willing to suggest it even when the immediately forthcoming transition — if there will be a transition — would be from a Republican to a Democrat.

Cornyn’s statement explains his reasoning:

But in the event of a successful inaugural day attack, the official who could become the acting President— perhaps serving for four full years—could very well be a member of the outgoing Administration, a member of the political party that the American people expelled from office in the election.

Cornyn is certainly not among my favorite politicians; nevertheless, his idea seems reasonable.