Watch CBS News

Nancy Pelosi Could Become President Should Election Remain Uncertified By Deadline, Law Prof Says

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- As President Donald Trump's team launch a barrage of legal challenges against how ballots are being counted in a number of states, some wonder if Trump will remain in the White House as President should the battle continue into the new year.

According to Case Western Reserve University law professor Jonathan Adler, if the results of the election are not certified by the deadline, the Speaker of the House becomes president. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who was born in Baltimore, is currently serving as House Speaker. She previously served as the Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011.

Adler spoke to CBSN about what could happen if the election results are put on hold until these lawsuits inch their way through the courts.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Speaks On Election Night
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks during a news conference at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. President Donald Trump has once again defied polls and predictions, with a strong showing across the Sun Belt in early results appearing to significantly shrink Democratic nominee Joe Bidens path to victory. Photographer: J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"There is a drop dead date, if the results of the election are not certified in time for a new president to be inaugurated, we then actually go to the Presidential Succession Act," Adler said. "So ultimately it would mean if you couldn't certify the results of the election and the Speaker of the House would become president."

"But that would only occur if you couldn't certify the results in January," Adler added.

The chief election official in each state must certify election results, according to, and in most states that is the secretary of state.

States continue to count votes after an unprecedented number of ballots were cast in the 2020 Election.

"It certainly is unsettling to have to go multiple days and people want to resolve -- this sort of conflict will be resolved relatively quickly," he said. " If the US Supreme Court does decide it has to hear about one of these cases, they will resolve it relatively quickly."

But Adler believes the Supreme Court would resolve it in November long before the certification deadlines and having to certify someone else as president.

The president-elect is scheduled to be sworn-in on Jan. 20, 2021.

Pelosi was first elected to Congress in 1987 and followed in her father Thomas D'Alesandro Jr.'s footsteps. D'Alesandro served as Baltimore's mayor and then a Maryland congressman.

You can read more about the Trump campaign's lawsuits on CBS News.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.