A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Natural Born Bunk

Q: Have Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Keith Olbermann introduced a bill that would do away with the requirement that the U.S. president be a natural born citizen?

A: No. Pelosi’s office confirmed that she has not, and Olbermann is not even a member of Congress.

Trump’s Power to Pardon

President Donald Trump tweeted that “all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon.” It’s true that the president has the constitutional power to issue pardons, but there are some limits to that power.

Palin’s Constitutional Stretch

At the Conservative Political Action Conference, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said that the Senate was “in violation of Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of our U.S. Constitution” by failing to “pass a budget.” She’s referring to a budget resolution. But that constitutional clause doesn’t mention a budget or a budget resolution, which was not required of the Senate until the 1974 Congressional Budget Act. The responses to Palin’s interpretation from constitutional scholars ranged from “completely invalid” to “kind of a stretch.”

Health Care and the Founding Fathers

Expect January to be dominated by House-Senate wrangling over the final shape of the gargantuan bill to overhaul the nation’s health insurance system.
Some opponents of the measures, though, are readying themselves for another potential fight, this one in the courts. An Arkansas group called the Conservative Action Project says it believes the overhaul is unconstitutional, and it is preparing to sue to stop it from taking effect, according to several conservative blogs (we attempted to reach someone at the organization but were unsuccessful).

Military Oath

Q: Is President Obama planning to have the military swear an oath to him rather than to the Constitution?
A: No, the "news report" that makes this claim is intended as satire.

Felons in Elected Office

Q: Can a convicted felon serve in elected office?
A: The Constitution allows a convicted felon, such as Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, to be a member of Congress, even if in prison. It’s up to the Senate or House to decide who may serve. As for state offices, different laws apply in different places.

Constitutional Queries about the VP Debate

Hundreds of readers have written us asking why we didn’t point out Joe Biden’s confusion of Articles I and II of the Constitution during his debate with Gov. Sarah Palin on Oct. 2. We should have. While his rambling response was generally correct in describing the constitutional role of the vice president, he did make a small error. And in the interest of clearing up previous debate matters before tonight’s final face-off between John McCain and Barack Obama,

Presidential Eligibility and the Line of Succession

Q: Can a person who is not constitutionally eligible for the office of president be in the line of succession?
A: Such a person can serve in an office that is in the line of succession, but he or she can't become president and would get skipped over if the presidency was vacated.

Vice President Bill Clinton?

Q: Could former President Bill Clinton be vice president?
A: Probably not, but it’s an untested constitutional conundrum.