25th Amendment of US Constitution

Published: October 3, 2020

The US President Donald Trump and the first lady have tested positive to COVID-19. He is currently treated at the Walter Reed Medical Centre.

Highlights

The 74-year-old President is working from the centre. If his health deteriorates, the vice president will take over his role. The provisions to the scenario was provided by the 25th Constitutional Amendment of the US.

Before the amendment there was no clarity over the scenario such as vacancy of office of vice president and also over inability of president to discharge his duties and power.

25th amendment of US Constitution

The amendment was proposed in 1965 and was adopted in 1967. The amendment was submitted to the states in 1965 and the requisite number of 38 individual states ratified the amendment in 1967.

The amendment clarifies that the vice president succeeds when the president dies, removed from office or resigns.

Key Features of the amendment

  • Section 1: The Vice President becomes the President instead of assuming his powers and duties
  • Section 2: Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of Vice President, the President shall appoint a new Vice President
  • Section 3: Whenever the President writes to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate about his inability to discharge his powers and duties, his powers and duties will be discharged by the Vice President.
  • Section 4: The section allows the vice president to declare that the president is unable to discharge his powers and duties along with the majority of principal officers of the executive departments. The principal officers are the fifteen secretaries.

Among these sections, only section 4 has not been invoked so far in the history of US.

1973: President Richard Nixon

In 1973, President invoked the amendment to appoint vice president. Gerald Ford was appointed as the Vice President as Spiro Agnew resigned.

1974: Gerald Ford succeeds Richard Nixon

The amendment was invoked again when Nixon resigned in 1974 and Gerald Ford succeeded as president.

1985: George W Bush

Section 3 was invoked when George W Bush had to undergo a colonoscopy. It was again invoked in 2002 and 2007 by George W Bush when he had to undergo colonoscopy again (both the times).

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