US Constitution Series, Amendment XXV

Amendment XXV. Presidential Vacancy, Disability, and Inability

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.
After providing for appointment of a new vice president after the vice president assumed the office of president, this amendment provides the procedure, including a procedure for permanent removal of the president in the event of a disability preventing the president from performing the duties of the office. "disability" is undefined and its determination is left up to the vice president, a committee of executive officers, and then 2/3 of both houses of the Congress. Note, it does not say 2/3 of each house, so apparently the houses would combine and vote as one.

I see potential interpretation problems on the "majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide." Who are these "principal officers?" When may congress provide for "such other body?" After the problem has arisen?

Could this amendment be used as an excuse to get rid of a bad president?

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