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    Fixing a Loophole: US Constitutional Amendment to Require the Speaker of the House to Be a Full Member

    So, I followed some link to link to link and ended up on the wikipedia page for the US Speaker of the House of Representatives. Much to my surprise this is what I read:

    Likewise, there is no Constitutional requirement that the Speaker even be an elected representative in the Congress.

    What was that?

    Article One of the United States Constitution provides, “The House of Representatives shall chuse [sic] their Speaker and other Officers…” Every Speaker to date has been a member of the House of Representatives, although the Constitution does not explicitly require it.

    That is a loophole just waiting to be exploited by one political party or another. I could see a party putting it presidential candidate-in-waiting or National Party Leader in as Speaker to give him/her a National Bully Pulpit.

    Before this situation occurs, it would be a good idea to start the process to amend the constitution to require the Speaker to be a regular member of the House. It would best to do this now when it is non-controversial.

    So, I will be adding one more suggestion to my list.

    3 Responses

    1. I think the current system is correct. The clause is there for times in our history where the House becomes the most powerful part of our government (hey, it’s happened before…). Allowing the Speaker not to be a Congressman prevents one side from trying to “decapitate” the national government by running a very strong candidate against him — this prevents a very small number of people from having an outsized say in our government.

      The last time I heard it seriously considered was after Gingrich, when there was talk of giving the job to Charleton Heston

    2. Interesting…I had not heard that there was ever any real discussion of this.

      I still don’t like it.

      I am trying to not imagine a Speaker Howard Dean in 2007.

    3. I don’t think there has ever been any discussion of going outside the House membership, and I’d wager the law under the 1947 Congressional Reform Act, and other House rules, make certain the speaker would be a member.

      Got any source for the Heston rumor? It just sounds completely wacky, out of touch with the House. Washington has got a loto more crazy since I left, but not that crazy.

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