Constitution Discussion, Part 36: Amendment XXV

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Martin Blank
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Constitution Discussion, Part 36: Amendment XXV

Post by Martin Blank » Wed Aug 17, 2005 3:51 am

Previous discussion part: US Constitution Discussion, Part 35: Amendment XXIV

Articles and Sections are offset by bold text; and underlined text has been modified, superseded, or repealed by Amendments, and generally are no longer in effect.

Amendment XXV.

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2. 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.

Section 3. 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.

Section 4. 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.


Ratification completed February 10, 1967

The order of presidential succession was formally structured with this to handle the possibility of a single attack taking out the entire command structure. It allowed Congress to set the line of succession through cabinet department heads after those specifically mentioned in the amendment; the list currently goes as follows:
  • Vice President (Richard B. Cheney)
  • Speaker of the House of Representatives (J. Dennis Hastert)
  • President pro tempore of the Senate (Ted Stevens)
  • Secretary of State (Condoleezza Rice)
  • Secretary of the Treasury (John W. Snow)
  • Secretary of Defense (Donald H. Rumsfeld)
  • Attorney General (Alberto Gonzales)
  • Secretary of the Interior (Gale Norton)
  • Secretary of Agriculture (Mike Johanns)
  • Secretary of Commerce (Carlos Gutierrez, ineligible)
  • Secretary of Labor (Elaine Chao, ineligible)
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services (Michael Leavitt)
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Alphonso Jackson)
  • Secretary of Transportation (Norman Y. Mineta)
  • Secretary of Energy (Samuel W. Bodman)
  • Secretary of Education (Margaret Spellings)
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Jim Nicholson)
(List courtesy of Wikipedia)

Gutierrez and Chao are presumably ineligible due to birthplaces. Interestingly enough, this provides for the possibility of a legal coup by a majority of the Executive Branch officers, at least for a few weeks.

Whoever becomes the president, of course, serves out the remaining term unless the original president becomes available at some point. There was some discussion of doing this when Reagan was shot, but there was worry that it would show that Reagan's condition was more serious than the world knew, and there was also (some) concern that it may have been the prelude to a Soviet strike. It was decided to leave Reagan in official power, even though he was incapacitated.

Is this the best way to handle things, allowing the person to remain president? Or should there be a change in the procedure? Should other positions be included in the list, or some already on the list excluded? Should the order be changed?
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twl1973
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Re: Constitution Discussion, Part 36: Amendment XXV

Post by twl1973 » Wed Aug 17, 2005 3:42 pm

[quote="Martin Blank";p="533062"] Or should there be a change in the procedure? Should other positions be included in the list, or some already on the list excluded? Should the order be changed?[/quote]

The interesting thing about the order is that most are not elected officials but appointed officials. I should do some research on why the list was made so that elected officials aren't there after the first couple. It was the 1960's so did the administration not trust the will of the people at that time?

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Re: Constitution Discussion, Part 36: Amendment XXV

Post by Slawson » Mon Aug 22, 2005 8:28 pm

[quote="Martin Blank";p="533062"]Whoever becomes the president, of course, serves out the remaining term unless the original president becomes available at some point. There was some discussion of doing this when Reagan was shot, but there was worry that it would show that Reagan's condition was more serious than the world knew, and there was also (some) concern that it may have been the prelude to a Soviet strike. It was decided to leave Reagan in official power, even though he was incapacitated.
[/quote]

There was also the fact that Alexander Haig, the Secretary of State, stepped up and started running the show as soon as The President was down. He had not stopped to think about the XXVth amendment and the changes it brought about. With Bush in Texas and out of contact at the time, he thought he was doing the right thing.

Even when there is not an official transfer of power, someone need to make the decisions day to day, and no one was so Al Haig stood up tp do it.
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