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Presidential Succession Eligibility Requirements

    Citizenship

    • As is the case with a person who campaigns for the office of president, any official who wishes to succeed to the nation's highest post must be a United States citizen--specifically, a "natural-born" citizen, someone who was born in the United States or a United States territory. This usually unspoken requirement resulted in a media frenzy during the presidential campaign and first term of President Barack Obama, wherein a fringe group of activists and pundits known as the "Birthers" alleged that the president's Hawaii birth certificate was fabricated. (see References 2)

    Age and Residency

    • Persons eligible to become president under the terms and conditions of the presidential line of succession must also meet certain age and residency requirements. First and foremost, they must be at least 35 years of age. Additionally, they must have resided in the United States for 14 years, although the Constitution does not specify whether these years must be consecutive or recent. If, however, a 36-year old Speaker of the House has been living outside the United States for more than 23 years, it's certain that he or she won't be able to succeed to the office of president.

    Appointment and Confirmation

    • Potential presidential successors must face official confirmation hearings in front of the full U.S. Senate, following appointment by the Senate. Therefore, if someone is an "acting" officer--an official who hasn't been confirmed for his current position--he can't be included in the presidential line of succession. Further, according to the Constitution, the person must be confirmed for his current position prior to the death of the president or his removal from office--retroactive confirmation doesn't apply.

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