If Wikpedia traffic is any indication, there has been a gigantic spike of interest in the 25th Amendment. The 25th Amendment to the Constitution was passed in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination when the senior leadership of the United States was decidedly elderly, which prompted fear about the succession of executive power. While articles of Impeachment are generally thought to be the primary way of removing a president, the 25th amendment provides a path, however hazy in reality, for the executive branch to do the same. The amendment was added to clarify the succession of power in situations where the president has died, has become ill or injured, or has been declared unfit to serve in some other way. In cases where the President has not died or resigned, it has only been used as a temporary measure to make sure that there was no confusion in the chain of command before the President resumed power.
Out of the four articles in the Amendment, the fourth provides the broadest power and is the only one that has never been invoked. While the first three articles have been used for temporary purposes, to aid in the proper transfer of power, or to appoint a vice-president, invocation of the 25th Amendment’s fourth article has no precedent in U.S. History.
Despite the Amendment’s place in popular culture, the use of the amendment’s fourth article to remove Donald Trump from the office of President would be a controversial move across the political spectrum, and an extraordinarily unique moment in our nation’s history. Regardless of the pros and cons, the GOP’s current reluctance to condemn or reign in Donald Trump is a sign that this sensational event will probably not come to pass.
Vox has a great break-down about the history of the 25th amendment and its potential in the United States’s current political climate. For those who cannot be satisfied by a single internet analysis, The Twenty-Fifth Amendment by John D. Feerick is available now from Fordham University Press and is a fantastic resource for any reader curious about this fascinating amendment to our nation’s Constitution.
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