A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center
FactCheck.org is celebrating 15 years of holding politicians accountable.

V.P. Term Limits


Q: Are there term limits for the vice president like there are for the president? Can they only serve two terms, too?

A: No. In theory, someone could hold the office indefinitely, but no one has actually served more than two full terms.

FULL QUESTION

Are there term limits for the vice president like there are for the president? Can they only serve two terms, too?

FULL ANSWER

There are no official term limits for the office. Article II of the Constitution, which originally gave the terms and conditions that govern the executive branch, did not make any mention of term limits. However, no president pursued more than two terms until Franklin D. Roosevelt did so in 1940. As we discussed in a previous Ask FactCheck, the 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, created guidelines for how long an individual can serve as president, limiting a commander in chief to two full terms, or up to 10 years if a vice president had assumed the presidency and held the top office for less than two years of his or her predecessor’s term.

But there are no comparable restraints on the vice presidency. So, in theory, an individual could hold the office as long as he or she wishes. But, in practice, no one has served more than two terms.

In fact, most vice presidents have served for less time than that. There have been 46 vice presidents in U.S. history including current office holder Dick Cheney. Only seven have served two complete terms: John Adams, Daniel Tompkins, Thomas Marshall, John Nance Garner, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush and Al Gore. Cheney is set to become the eighth member of that select group in January 2009.

-Justin Bank

Sources

Article II, U.S. Constitution. 

22nd Amendment, U.S. Constitution.

Neale, Thomas H. "Presidential and Vice Presidential Terms and Tenure." Congressional Research Service, 23 Aug. 2004.