Posted On: Saturday - February 20th 2021 10:33AM MST
In Topics:   Liberty/Libertarianism  ctrl-left  Dead/Ex- Presidents  Morning Constitutional  Zhou Bai Dien
(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, Amendment XXIV, and Amendment XXV - Part 1: Housekeeping)
I can't get these nice little images of scrolls for the entirety of the longer Amendments, but I like them for consistency. Therefore, here is Section 4 of Amendment XXV again:
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.The problem that Section 4 was written to solve was that of a President who is deemed by others to be incapable of performing the duties (such as knowing when to push that "red button" on the "football") of the office, though he is well enough to believe and maintain that he is. For physical problems, I don't think this is such a big issue, something I'll get to at the end of this post. I believe this Amendment was designed more to handle Presidents gone Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, as we used to say.
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 Founders didn't want too strong an Executive Branch, as they'd dealt with Kings, very recently, in fact. However, the Constitution lays out the powers of the branches quite nicely. We don't want the President to be on eggshells wondering about the next vote of no confidence, the next election that could happen any time, as with the Euro type governments. I believe ours was designed pretty damn well.
There is already an impeachment process, spelled out quickly in Article II (the Executive Branch), Section 4, and in more detail as to the voting, in Article I (the Legislative Branch), Section 2 (The House), clause 5 and Article I, Section 3 (The Senate), clause 6*. Impeachment is a big formal process that was used only ~ once per century until recent times. None has ever resulted in a conviction by the Senate. The only one that I think was truly a serious deal worthy of consideration by a serious government was that of Andrew Johnson who was impeached in early March of 1868 and very narrowly acquitted by the Senate at the end of that month. The Nixon near-impeachment and the Clinton** impeachment were less related to actual government business, and the Trump deals have been just Lyin' Press lefty distractions and show trials in that order.
I suppose "Treason, Bribery, or other High crimes and Misdemeanors" doesn't cover "batshit crazy" or "under the care of Nurse Ratched." The good old interpretation page notes that Section 4 solved part of the issue about "inability"
At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, delegate John Dickinson asked, “What is the extent of the term ‘disability’” in the proposed presidential succession clause, “and who is to be the judge of it?” No response is recorded. By giving the President, Vice President, and Congress important and distinct roles, the Framers of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment went a long way toward answering the second part of Dickinson’s question, rather than try to resolve the first part.As those two authors also noted, this is a long Amendment, and Section 4 has a lot to it. However, as I read it, I see that the Congressmen and Senators in 1965 still had their heads screwed on fairly Constitutionally. Note that the "principal officer" or cabinet heads, the government officials closest to the President, get to make this determination first. However, there's that out of "some other body as Congress may by law approve". Is that to keep the cabinet from running a coup? Nah, because, as you read on, you see that the Legislative branch is involved from that point on. If the President begs to differ on the issue of his inability to function, then a lengthy process must happen (I can see at least well over a month for this), and for him to be discharged, it must take 2/3 of the House AND 2/3 of the Senate. That is more than impeachment requires.
I give kudos to the Amendment XXV, Section 4 authors for not making this an easy way to perform Soviet Union/East Bloc/Red China type changes in leadership. "Yep, the guy just went crazy. Nope, haven't seen him in a while. Premier Stalinowski is in charge now. Who are those 2 bodies on the floor? Not your business Comrade."
The Amenders of 1965 still lived in a sane country where even the left, at least at the high political level, did not act like Soviets or Red Chinese. (At least they pretended to be sane, anyway.) We've read of Nancy Pelosi and her crowd threatening Amendment XXV action against President Trump. They would love to have the power of that Commie leadership of old. The psychological test for ability was a big Communist tool to wield power. The gun controllers, for instance, just love the idea of some psychological test for gun ownership - I left out that part of the proposed gun control laws described yesterday just due to trying to limit the post.
"This guy has written and said too many crazy things... all kind of crap... about 'due process of law', 'muh Constitutional rights', 'States' rights', 'sovereign Sheriffs', c'mon!! His ideas are crazy - he's insane. No way could a guy like this safely own a gun or stay in the office of President!" "The government must be able to regulate crazy people. If you don't agree with that, you're anti-government. Being anti-government is crazy because, for one thing, you're against regulation of crazy people. Therefore, we need to regulate you."
Maybe it wasn't much of a can of worms in 1965. I don't think there were bad intentions. Section 4 of Amendment XXV is a can of worms that the ctrl-left has already popped the lid off of, though. If they do, you can bet they'll use that "some other body as Congress may by law approve" clause. That only takes a majority, and "some other body" could be the $PLC in the near future.
I wrote that I'd get back to the use of Section 4 in regards to physical incapacitation. In the past, people usually died more quickly of ailments that we now can knock out in a few days or solve with surgery. The VP would just step in before any of that months of activity started. There's no reason a President in the past could not have done a decent job from his death bed until his last words. There's even less of a reason now, that he should be removed for physical ailments. Even if he couldn't move anything but his thumb on one hand, he could look at news on a tablet, be in zoom meetings, and give a thumbs down or thumbs up to his advisors.
Perhaps any Section 4 action regarding physical disabilities should be decided in council with the President's legal advisors, say someone like Ben Stein:
In conclusion, Amendment XXV took care of some housekeeping to avoid Constitutional issues that could come up. That could be important in the future in a country that actually bothered to abide by it. Section 4 may turn out to be the can of worms that finishes eating up the rest of the document.
* There is a clause 7 too, which basically spells out how much legal trouble the President can be in for.
** It's not that I don't think there were serious charges against Bill Clinton for perjury (no it wasn't about Monica Lewinski's stained dress). He perjured himself during an investigation into sexual harassment allegations. No doubt Clinton was a lying corrupt, likely, murderer, but this was not government business so much as politics.