During this long national nightmare that is the Presidency of popular vote loser Donald J. Trump, Americans have been brushing up on the Constitution, paying special attention to things like the 25th Amendment.
Part of the 25th features a nice little bit about how a President can be removed from office if he is deemed unfit for office.
Needless to say, internet searches on issues surrounding impeachment have spiked drastically since January 20, 2017. It seems, though, that Trump himself was not among those brushing up on the ins and outs of constitutional impeachment laws.
Trump himself reportedly didn’t know what the 25th Amendment did, vanityfair reports. When former adviser Steve Bannon told him it posed the biggest threat to his presidency, according to Vanity Fair, Trump said, “What’s that?”
Business Insider explains:
The amendment states that if the president dies, resigns, or is removed from office, the vice president becomes president. If there is a vacancy in the vice presidency for any reason, the president can choose someone to fill it. And if the president is unable to fulfill his duties — like when President George W. Bush was under general anesthesia for colonoscopies in 2002 and 2007 — he can temporarily transfer his powers to the vice president, and get them back when he’s done.
It’s Section IV that some liberals have been frantically searching for more information on.
And here’s where it gets really interesting:
Under the amendment’s fourth stipulation, it would only take 14 people to depose the president — Vice President Mike Pence and 13 of Trump’s 24 Cabinet members.
Section IV reads:
“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.”
John D. Feerick, former dean of Fordham Law School, is one of the chief architects of the 25th Amendment who shepherded it through Congress in the early 1960s.
He told Business Insider in March that the senators who signed the provision into law specified that declaring the president unfit must rely on “reliable facts regarding the president’s physical or mental faculties,” not personal prejudice.
“If you read the debates, it’s also clear that policy and political differences are not included, unpopularity is not included, poor judgment, incompetence, laziness, or impeachable conduct — none of that, you’ll find in the debates in the congressional record, is intended to be covered by Section IV,” Feerick said.
Policy and political differences, unpopularity, poor judgment, incompetence, laziness, or impeachable conduct — none of that is intended to be covered by section IV.
Section IV goes on to say that if two-thirds of both houses of Congress don’t vote to uphold the decision and keep the vice president in charge within 21 days, then the powers and duties automatically transfer back to the president. So if the president doesn’t want to give up his office, Feerick explained, he doesn’t have to if Congress agrees he shouldn’t.
While there is plenty of “personal prejudice” against President Trump, there would clearly also be “reliable facts regarding” his mental faculties. One exam by a mental health professional would prove that.