23 Feb THE TWENTY FIFTH AMENDMENT: SECTIONS ONE & SECTION TWO
AMENDMENT XXV TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION was ratified by the requisite number of states more than fifty years ago. It consists of four sections of increasing complexity. Section One and Section Two will be discussed and explained below.
SECTION ONE reads: “In the case of the removal of the president from office or his death or resignation, the vice president shall become president.” This had been the accepted procedure from well before the 1967 ratification of the 25th Amendment. It was a necessary procedure to assure the continued function of the United States government. Eight presidents have died in office; four (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Kennedy) from assassination: four (WH Harrison, Taylor, Harding, Franklin Roosevelt) from natural causes. Additionally, a ninth president, Richard Nixon, resigned.
Vice President John Tyler succeeded to the presidential office in 1841 after President William Henry Harrison died one month after his Inauguration. This aged president gave a long inaugural address in the rain, developed pneumonia, and died. Tyler almost immediately moved into the White House and assumed all the prerogatives of the presidency. Some wished to call Tyler “Acting President.” Fortunately, he refused to respond to this title and called and was called “President.” The precedent was established.
SECTION TWO states: “Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the vice president, the president shall nominate a vice president who shall take the office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both houses of Congress. This section has been implemented twice, in 1973, and in 1974.
When Spiro Agnew was compelled to resign the vice-presidency due to corruption, Senior Congressional Representative, Gerald Ford, well-known, congenial, and non-threatening, was quickly confirmed. Later, Ford became president when Richard Nixon resigned. Hence, Section Two was invoked for a second time. Gerald Ford nominated New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller to succeed himself as Vice President. Rockefeller was far more controversial; it took four months for his nomination to be approved by Congress.