Bruce Ackerman, who authored this piece in Slate.com, is no consipracy theory nut case. He is a law professor at Yale. And, slate.com is no National Inquirer.
Which is why his commentary is troubling and terrifying. Apparently there have always been rumors that Reagan put into play some kind of a presidential succession executive order that will bypass our understanding that the speaker of the House will be the one after the VP. But, how can something like this ever be done in a democracy? A president creating his own succession plan as if it were a monarchy? Bizarre, and eerie.
Anyway, Ackerman concludes his comments with:
If Reagan did issue an illegal order, Congress should publicly determine how subsequent administrations dealt with it. Perhaps President George H. W. Bush or Bill Clinton expressly repudiated the order. Or perhaps they reaffirmed it, thereby laying the foundation for President Bush, with the encouragement of Vice President Cheney, to do the same—through a process entirely independent of the administration's formal directives on the subject.
In any event, it is time for Congress to find out. Even if Reagan's initial illegal order has been rescinded, Congress must deprive it of all value as a precedent. Lawmakers should pass legislation that expressly nullifies all secret orders, present and future, through which the president asserts the imperial privilege of naming his own successor.