When it comes to civics, we’re on it.
Let’s brush up on the 25th Amendment since that is one of the “October surprises” that has everybody talking.
Why the 25th Amendment?
At the dawn of the 20th century and as the nation grew in population and prominence, the President’s responsibilities increased. The world became more dangerous. Mobility made tragedies more possible. Medicines were developed, and life expectancy extended. It became possible, mid-20th century, to have a critical illness that was debilitating, but not necessarily life-ending. Thus, the need for a constitutional (legal) provision with clarity became apparent. The 25th Amendment defines and provides for presidential succession in the case where he/she cannot perform the duties of the office.
What are the essential points of the 25th Amendment? Here is a quick summary of the notables:
Section 1- clarifies that the Vice-President becomes the President (not an acting President) if/when the President vacates the Presidency.
Section 2- specifies the procedure for filling the office of Vice-President, should it become vacant. Section 2 has been used twice: President Nixon appointed Rep. Gerald R. Ford to fill his vacancy and then by Ford to fill the V.P. vacancy when he became President after Nixon’s resignation.
Section 3- provides a transfer of power to the Vice-President if the President declares himself/herself unable to discharge his duties. It allows the Vice-President to become acting President when there is a situation that warrants such need. This section has been used 3 times while Presidents have undergone medical procedures (for instance, surgery). Upon recovery, he/she assumes the duties and power of the office immediately.
Section 4- provides transferring the President’s power should he/she become incapacitated (i.e., unable to discharge the duties of the office and is unable or unwilling to transfer power to the Vice-President. The Vice-President and a majority of cabinet members must declare in writing that the President is unable or unwilling to fulfill the duties of the office. In a Section 4 transfer, the President cannot return to the office without a written declaration that “no inability exists.” If four days pass and there is no opposition, the President can take back the office. If there is a dispute between the President, the Vice-President, and cabinet, Congress must settle it with a 2/3 majority in the House and in the Senate. Suppose 21 days pass, and there are not the necessary majorities needed in both houses of Congress. In that case, the President returns to the office. If Congress votes the President out of office, the Vice-President becomes the President. Note that the President can again try to regain his office.
The goal here is to keep a legal head of state in charge at all times. The 25th Amendment is not a means for political enemies to declare a President unfit for office. Good grief. That could conceivably happen during every Presidency! This Amendment actually preserves and protects the President from being unlawfully deposed from the office without just cause.
Now you’re in the know!
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.??