The Speaker of the House
posted by Gerard Magliocca
Last week, Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas announced that he wanted Newt Gingrich to be the next Speaker of the House. How can that be? The answer is that nothing in the Constitution requires the House to choose one of its own as the Speaker. Nevertheless, what I call “the unwritten unwritten Constitution” imposes such a requirement. (There is a parallel here with the norm that the British Prime Minister must be an MP, though nothing requires that either and, if you go back far enough, there were Lords who were PMs.)
The thought that the House can choose an outsider as its leader draws from parliamentary practice, as there were Speakers of the House of Commons who were not MPs. (Hat tip to Josh Chafetz, the leading expert on all things congressional and parliamentary, for confirming this point for me). Has there ever been a serious push to make a non-member the Speaker of the House of Representatives? Not that I know of, but perhaps this post will flush out some examples.