15 Mar THE TWENTY FIFTH AMENDMENT. SECTION IV
SECTION IV of the TWENTY FIFTH AMENDMENT of the US CONSTITUTION has neither been invoked nor applied. It deals with the removal of a president against his will. It is extremely cumbersome and complicated. Its complexity and its political ambiguity make it unlikely to be ever employed.
It states: Whenever the vice president and a majority of the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may be 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 an duties of the office of acting president.
SECTION IV contains a second part, which deals with the “deposed” president’s attempt to regain the powers and duties of his office. The procedure outlined for his re-assumption of the presidency is convoluted. It is not printed here. Its complicated verbiage runs to nearly two hundred words.
Several conferences of political, legal, and medical experts have convened to unravel the Section’s obvious difficulties: 1. Presidential disability requires a medically informed decision. The presidential physician probably would be required to assist in such a determination. 2. The presidential physician would be inherently conflicted. Issues of physician/patient privilege, confidentiality, loyalty, and military chain of command (the president is the senior officer to the physician, almost always an army, air force, or naval officer, would come into play. 3. The vice president would also be conflicted. On the one hand; loyalty to this incumbent who selected him; on the other hand, any vice president is desirous of ascending to the Oval Office, and any decision in this context might be viewed as self-serving. 4. What constitutes the principal officers of the executive department; its composition has not been released to the pubic, even if there has been a private determination. 5. To my knowledge, the alternate: or of such other body as Congress may by law, has not been authorized.
President Donald Trump early in his presidency was confronted by rumors that he was mentally disabled to perform as chief executive. After his personal physician Colonel Ronnie Jackson performed an extensive mental cognitive test, these rumors evaporated.
Joe Biden’s cognitive status becomes more and more in question as his tenure evolves. It is likely that he will resign before Section III or Section IV is invoked.