Order Of Succession

(Line of Succession)

An order of succession is the procedure for automatically replacing a leader, whether in government or business, or even in sports.  This line of succession can be determined by law, constitution, policy or tradition.

For example, the order of succession or line of succession in government is the ranking of replacement officicials.  For example the replacement official for a governor of a state in the United States typically is the Lieutenant Governor.  In this example, when Elliot Spitzer, former governor of New York was forced to resign due to a call-girl scandal, he automatically was replaced by the then Lieutenant Governor Patterson of New York.

As to the United States federal government, there is a constitutionally mandated Presidential order of succession of the presidency.  The Presidential order of succession sets forth who should replace the president should he or she die, or otherwise resign or become incapacitated.  In the list of Presidents, the succession order to Vice President has been exercised several times, although on numerous occaisions, the Vice-Presidency has remained vacant.


Basically speaking, the order is used for each successive persion, in other words should the presidential successor resign, die or become incapacitated who comes next in line to succeed that person is determined by the order of succession of the presidency.  For the United States presidency the Presidential line of succession after President is:  Vice-President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, President pro tempore of the Senate, Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defence, Attorney General, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Secretary of Homeland Security, i.e. the presidential succession.

Likewise, a hereditary monarchy also can have a designated order of succession.  For example, in the line of succession of the British monarchy, the order of succession determines who is next in line should the Queen or King die, abdicate or otherwise become incapacitated or unwilling to serve.  The order starts with the blood relatives and moves out in accordance with the closeness of blood relation, as well as gender.  For example, the sons of a Queen are next in line before the daughters in the monarchical order of succession

In business as well, a designated order of succession may be in place, for example, should a chief executive officer of a major corporation become incapacitated, the order of succession may cover who will assume the executive authority until the Board of Directors can approve a replacement