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15.1H: The Transfer of Authority

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    8427
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    In the United States, transfers of authority generally occur after presidential elections.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Compare presidential transitions with transitional justice using real-life examples

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • A presidential transition refers to the period of time between the end of a presidential election and the inauguration of a new president.
    • In the United States, during a presidential transition, the outgoing, “lame duck” president has lost many of the intangible benefits of a presidency, but the incoming president-elect is not yet legally empowered to enforce policy.
    • Transitional justice refers to a range of efforts, on the part of the state, to address past human rights violations. These efforts include both judicial and non-judicial methods.
    • In the context of transitional justice, memorialization is used to honor the victims of human rights abuses.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • president-elect: a person who has been elected to a presidency but has not yet been inducted into office
    • transitional justice: Transitional justice generally refers to a range of approaches that states may use to address past human rights violations. This includes both judicial and non-judicial approaches.
    • Presidential transition: A presidential transition or presidential interregnum refers to the period of time between the end of a presidential election and the inauguration of a new president.

     

    Presidential Transitions

     

    A presidential transition refers to the period of time between the end of a presidential election and the inauguration of a new president. During this time, the incoming president usually designates new governmental personnel, including those individuals who will either serve in the cabinet or lead governmental agencies.

    In the United States, the presidential transition extends from the date of the presidential election, in early November, until the twentieth day of January in the following year. This was specified in the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution. During a presidential transition, the outgoing president, also known as the “lame duck,” has lost many of the intangible benefits of a presidency. That being said, the incoming president-elect is not yet legally empowered to enforce policy. This ambiguity, between the president-elect and outgoing president, creates the potential for a leadership vacuum, which may be most acutely felt during wartime or times of economic crisis.

     

    Transitional Justice

     

    In other nations, many of which have experienced undemocratic governments and dictators, transitional justice refers to a state’s efforts to address past human rights violations. These efforts can be both judicial and non-judicial, and refer to actions, policies or institutions that are enacted at a point of political transition from violence or repression to societal stability. As a project, transitional justice has a number of goals, including rebuilding social trust, repairing a fractured judicial system, and building a democratic system of governance.

    In the context of transitional justice, memorialization is used to honor the victims of human rights abuses. By demonstrating respect and acknowledging the past, national memorials can help governments reconcile tensions with victims. They can also help to establish a record of history and to prevent the recurrence of abuse.

    image

     

    Presidential Inauguration, 2005: In the United States, elaborate inauguration ceremonies mark the transfer of authority.

     

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