The 25th Amendment
The events of Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C. have resulted in calls from some of our nation’s leaders and others for President Trump to leave office by resigning or being removed by impeachment or by Vice President Pence invoking the 25th Amendment.
Historically these are infrequent occurrences.
A resignation has only happened once when President Richard Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974.
Additionally, there are three presidents who have been impeached, Andrew Johnson, William Clinton and Donald Trump. They all remained in office as their impeachment trials resulted in not guilty verdicts.
As to the 25th Amendment, a vice president has never attempted to remove a sitting president under its Section 4.
Today I will provide a very brief summary of this amendment.
The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution became effective Feb. 23, 1967.
It was added to clarify what happens when the president or vice president is removed, dies, resigns, or in the case of the president, is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office. It was in response to the 1963 Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The concern was who would be in charge if he had lived and was in a coma.
The Amendment has four sections.
The first two provide for a succession order when there is a permanent vacancy in the office of the president or vice president.
The third section provides for the vice president to take temporary command when the president requests it in writing.
The never invoked Section 4 is lengthy and provides that if the vice president and a majority of the principal officers of the 15 executive departments (most of which are cabinet positions) or another body appointed by Congress, informs Congress that the president is unable to discharge his or her duties, the vice president immediately assumes the powers and duties of the office as acting president.
There are provisions for the president to contest this declaration.
Ultimately, it is up to Congress to vote on the issue and if it agrees with the declaration, the vice president continues as acting president. If not, the president resumes the office.
These are difficult times and another impeachment may be on the way.
Let us all hope that everything turns out for the best.