What Does Invoking The 25th Amendment Actually Look Like?

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tags: Trump, 25th Amendment

Television shows are writing the 25th Amendment into their ripped-from-the-headlines storylines. Pundits debate the possibilities of the removal and succession of the president if he is incapacitated. Even former FBI Director James Comey has weighed in on whether Donald Trump is “medically unfit to be president.” (He doesn’t think so.) In the unlikely — but politically fascinating — event that a Cabinet were to use the power to oust a sitting president, what would come next?

Let’s take a deeper look at the 25th Amendment and think about what each section of it has meant in the past — and what it might mean for Trump-era politics.

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

The amendment’s initial section revisits what Article II of the Constitution set up from the beginning — the vice president takes over if the president dies or is unable to serve — but with clearer language to clean up previous constitutional confusion. When William Henry Harrison died shortly after his inauguration in 1841, there were questions about whether John Tyler, nicknamed “His Accidency,” was truly the president or just an “acting” president of some kind. Tyler made clear his intent to fully occupy the office and do everything an elected president would have done — and he forged his own pathseparate from Harrison. Since then, seven presidents have taken office after a presidential death (all before the 25th Amendment was ratified) and one after a resignation. In this way, the amendment codified the status quo. ...

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