Posted On: Friday - February 19th 2021 9:12AM MST
In Topics:   US Feral Government  Dead/Ex- Presidents  Morning Constitutional
(Continued from Amendment XI, Amendment XII, Amendment XIII, Amendment XIV, Amendment XV, Part 1 on Amendment XVI, Part 2 on Amendment XVI , Part 3 on Amendment XVI, Amendment XVII, Amendment XVIII, Part 1 on Amendment XIX, Part 2 on Amendment XIX, Part 3 on Amendment XIX, Amendment XX, and Amendment XXI, Amendment XXII, Amendment XXIII, and Amendment XXIV)
Due partly to the at-the-time recent assasination of John Kennedy, and subsequent installation of the Socialist bastard Lyndon Johnson as Presidedent, the proposed Amendment XXV (that's "25" for those of our readers in Del Boca Vista*) was passed by the US Congress in July of 1965. It was ratified by the 38th State (Nevada, in this case), per the required 3/4, in February of '67, about 54 years ago.
This one is not as succinct as most of the Amendments and the Constitution itself, for that matter. The writers tried to cover all of numerous situations that could occur, and some that had occurred:
Section 1It's hard to see that very many partisan or ideological arguments could be made against Amendment XXV. This seems like a lot of overdue housekeeping, some rules to keep thing straight for the next incident. There haven't been so many involving physical incapacity or death recently. As much as the US Feral Gov't leadership is resembling the old Soviet Gerontocracy, the science/tech side of healthcare has improved so much since the 19th century, keeping them all around. Unfortunately, often enough, they stay well past their "best governed by" dates these days, while back in the 19th century, there were Presidents dying from having frozen their asses during their inauguration and stuff like that.
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
The Constitution Center's Amendment XXV Interpretation Page, written by Law Professors Brian Kalt and David Pozen, has some good history notes to explain the evolution of the ideas of the succession of Executive Branch powers. Note that Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the Constitution stated from the beginning:
“In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.”The question of whether the office itself "devolves" to the VP or just the powers (till an election of some sort?) is discussed by these professors. It became clear from the precedent of the death of William Harrison and subsequent elevation to Presidency of John Tyler, that yes, the VP becomes President. Section 1 makes this clear in writing.
Section 2 became very important during the later Nixon years. When Spiro Agnew (in my hindsight, a good guy) resigned, Gerald Ford was nominated by Nixon and confirmed by the Congress. I kind of wish he'd picked a stronger guy, as we know than Ford became President per Section 1 not that long afterward. Here's an interesting bit from the Interpretation article:
Second, what should happen when a vice-presidential vacancy arises? The original Constitution did not provide for filling such a vacancy. Prior to the adoption of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, one Vice President resigned, seven died in office, and eight took over for Presidents who died in office: all in all, the vice presidency was unoccupied more than 20 percent of the time. [My bolding]How much do we need that bucket of warm spit** anyway?
The first of 3 uses of Section 3, as a temporary measure, per The Reagan Library Education Blog was by old Ronnie while he underwent surgery***:
On July 13, 1985 President Ronald Reagan became the first President to invoke Section 3 of the 25th Amendment. Or did he? Like the Amendment requires, President Reagan sent a letter to the President pro tempore of the Senate, which was Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina at the time, and Speaker of the House, which was then Representative Thomas “Tip” O’Neill of Massachusetts. In the draft above there are a couple lines which indicate that President Reagan had some misgivings about using the Amendment for a brief surgery. “I do not believe that the drafters of this Amendment intended its applications to situations such as the instant one,” is a line from the draft that made it into the final letter.A couple of decades later, President George W. Bush continued with the precedent of temporary invocation of Amendment XXV, Section 3, basically "calling out sick", twice, in '02 and in '07. These were both done for colonoscopies, and, each time, VP Dick Cheney was temporarily elevated to assume the duties of probing the nation in the ass.
I'll point out another item I question here from the two professors of law:
In practice, power was never transferred and presidential inner circles typically concealed the President’s condition. This pattern came to be seen as increasingly irresponsible with the advent of nuclear weapons during the Cold War; the nation needed a fully functioning presidency at all times. In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sought to break the pattern by being more open about his health and by entering into an agreement with Vice President Richard Nixon that provided for Nixon to serve as Acting President in the event of presidential “inability.” [Again, my bolding]Yeah, well, the Cold War is over. Unless there is a DECLARED war going on right now, what's the hurry if the Prez is down with the Kung Flu for a coupla' days****, or puking his guts out after a night of hookers and blow? Not our business. What if some very important legislation is on his desk awaiting a signature or not? Hell, I've got mail on my desk from couple of years back. No own cares. Let it rot. The less legislation, the better. I'm all for a Calvin Coolidge style Presidency.
Especially right now, in this era of the Black Plague 2.0, we should not expect so much out of the executive branch. We may expect soon a sign on the White House door:
At first glance, Section 4 seems to just laying out more details of the powers of the House and Senate, the procedures, and the timetable involved, if the President is unable to perform the duties of the job. However, as opposed to Section 3, this section describes procedures for the case in which the President is deemed unfit for the duties, by others. Ahhaaa, this is where Amendment XXV opened a big political can of worms.
I was going to finish, but it seems like the politics that have resulted from Section 4 of the 25th Amendment deserve a separate post. Part 2 is coming tomorrow.
* See? Thank you, El Rushbo.
** Most attributed to Texan VP-to-FDR John Nance Garner, with, as usual, references to possible earlier uses. Oh, and it was "bucket" or "quart" or "pitcher", depending on whether anyone can properly record details from 60 to 100 years ago. See, now we got youtube!
*** The surgery was for the removal of a polyp in his large intestine.
**** See also Trump Triumphs, Kung Flu Kapitulates.