light of the erratic and unstable behavior of President Donald
- who, since contracting the coronavirus has been over the top, even
by his own standards - there is more discussion in Washington about
the 25th amendment.
what is the amendment, and what is its purpose?
put it all on the table when she announced legislation to create a
bipartisan commission that would judge whether a sitting president is
competent to remain in office. Although the commission provided in
the bill would apply to any president, it is clear Pelosi had Trump
is not about President Trump. He will face the judgment of the
voters, but he shows the need for us to create a process for future
presidents,” Pelosi said at a press conference with Rep. Jamie
D-Md., who wrote the bill.
legislation applies to future presidents, but we are reminded of the
necessity of action by the health of the current president.”
is really only for the most extreme situations where you have a
president who cannot fulfill the functions of the office,”
legislation would create a 17-member
- eight appointed by Democrats, eight by Republicans, and a chair
selected by all members - consisting of former executive branch
officials and doctors. This body would monitor the fitness of the
commander-in-chief and request a health exam from him or her.
the president refused, the commission could vote to remove the
president from office, with the vote of the vice president.
a Republican Senate and White House, the chances of this bill’s
passage seem unlikely. However, the legislation, which invokes the
25th amendment, provides a potent political tool to keep Trump in
check and put him on notice.
by Congress in 1965 after the assassination of President John
and enacted in 1967, the 25th Amendment outlines the process for
a president or vice president
who dies or is incapacitated, resigns or is removed from office.
section 1 of the amendment, “In case of the removal of the
President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice
President shall become President” rather than merely acting
president. In Section 2, the president fills a vice presidential
vacancy by nominating someone who is subject to confirmation by both
houses of Congress.
3 allows the president to voluntarily discharge his or her duties to
the vice president in writing, when the president is temporarily
unable to fulfill the responsibilities of the office, as in the case
of a surgery. The vice president becomes acting president until the
president is able to return to power through a written declaration.
important for the purposes of the proposed legislation is section 4,
which says that if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet
“or such other body as Congress may by law provide”
declare in writing to the Speaker and the to the President pro
tempore of the Senate that the president is unable to carry out the
duties and powers of the office, the vice president becomes the
the president declares in writing that he or she is able, the vice
president and a majority of the cabinet or other body have four days
to declare in writing that the president is incapacitated. If they do
not, the president resumes power. If they do, the Congress has 21
days to consider the matter, and with a two-thirds vote of the House
and Senate would allow the vice president to continue as acting
Trump’s record of offensive behavior, toxic racism and
hazardous policies over the past four years, his more recent actions
and statements have raised serious concerns about his fitness for
office and the threat he poses to national security. Since testing
positive for the coronavirus, Trump has received a treatment of a
variety of drugs, including steroids which, along with the virus
itself, could impair his judgment and lead to behavior changes.
Trump claimed he “feels
in the middle of a coughing spell and vowed to hit the campaign trail
soon, his physicians are sending mixed signals and dodging questions
about his health. Recently, he called off negotiations on a new
coronavirus stimulus package before reversing course, and bailed out
of the next presidential town hall debate with Democrat rival Joe
dismal poll numbers, $421
owed to bill collectors and possibly prison bars if he loses the
election, a COVID-19 infected White House and his own diagnosis,
Trump appears desperate and in meltdown mode.
a tumultuous year where an impeachment process was unable to keep a
president in check, this unstable president still has much time to
inflict damage before the election and inauguration day. The 25th
Amendment is another tool in the Constitution to attempt to restore
democracy and the rule of law to the American system of
This commentary was originally published by The Grio