By: David Zvirman, Staff Writer
Recently, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment has been getting a lot of attention in the media in relation to the presidency of Donald Trump, but where did the Twenty-Fifth Amendment come from, what is it, and what does it even do? This article will take a brief look at the Twenty-Fifth Amendment and attempt to answer these questions.
The Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution was first passed by Congress on July 6, 1965. It was ratified two years later on February 10, 1967. This amendment came as a direct response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, as there was an urgent need for a formal stable line of succession. Prior to this amendment, there was no clear process in place for transferring authority should a president become incapacitated, die, or became unable to govern. This new amendment clarified these issues.
Section 1 of the Amendment provides that “[i]n case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.” This provision was meant to clear up any ambiguity from Article II, Section 1 which provides that in the event of “removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President.” This provision clarified this ambiguity, by stating if any of these events occur, the Vice President becomes the President and assumes all the duties and responsibilities associated with the office.
Section 2 provides that “[w]henver 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.” This provision was meant to establish a process for filling a Vice Presidential vacancy, which had not existed before, despite the fact that Lyndon Johnson’s ascension to the presidency marked the sixteenth time there was vice presidential vacancy.
Section 3 provides:
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.
Just as Section 1, as explained above, was meant to clear up the ambiguity of Article II, Section 1; Section 3 was meant to eliminate any ambiguity regarding the transfer of power during a temporary and voluntary Presidential incapacitation. This provision would become particularly handy as both Presidents Regan and George W. Bush would use this provision when they had to have surgery, and needed to temporarily transfer power to their respective Vice Presidents.
Finally, Section4 provides the following:
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.
This section provides a procedure for the immensely unlikely event where a President is incapable of performing his duties, but refuses to secede authority. In the very words of the author of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, this provision was only meant to be used when “the president was as nutty as a fruit cake.” This section is particularly relevant today. Based on the recent anonymous New York Times op-ed, this section was secretly discussed among cabinet members in regard to President Trump and his competency. While this section does garner media attention, it is important to remember that this section has never been used before.
Overall, while the Twenty-Fifth Amendment continues to gain headlines in relation to President Trump, it is important to understand what exactly this amendment is, what it does, and to remember that the use of it is not as simple as some of the media might make it sound. Each one of the above described sections entail serious procedural processes meant to ensure that this county always has capable leadership. For more information on the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, feel free to look up any of the cited sources in this article.
 Rod Rosenstein, 5 Things to know about the deputy U.S. attorney general, USA TODAY, (September 21, 2018); Lydia O’Connor, Elizabeth Warren Calls for Use of 25th Amendment to Remove Trump, HUFFPOST (September 6, 2018); I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration, THE NEW YORK TIMES, (September 5, 2018).
 Amendment XXV Presidential Disability and Succession, ConstitutionCenter.org, available at https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-xxv?gclid=Cj0KCQjw6MHdBRCtARIsAEigMxGXCpUNTtdeitn2SlcG9GcAn8_3btJYcvuF3lvCpuRGA-GVl6J8itcaAgaWEALw_wcB, (last visited September 30, 2018) (hereinafter “Constitutional Center”).
 Id.; Groppe; Philip Ewing, What You Need to Know About The 25th Amendment, NPR, September 5, 2018 (hereinafter “Ewing”).
 Id.; Maureen Groppe, Eight things to know about the 25th Amendment, USA TODAY, September 5, 2018.
 Constitutional Center. (hereinafter “Groppe”).
 See Id.; Groppe.
 Constitutional Center (quoting U.S. CONST. amend XXV, §1).
 Id. (quoting U.S. CONST. Art. II, §1).
 Id. (quoting U.S. CONST. amend XXV, §2).
 Id.; Groppe.
 Constitutional Center (quoting U.S. CONST. amend XXV, §3).
 Id.; Groppe.
 Constitutional Center (quoting U.S. CONST. amend XXV, §4).
 Groppe (quoting Former Senator Birh Bayh from his book “One Heartbeat Away: Presidential Disability and Succession.”).
 I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration, THE NEW YORK TIMES, (September 5, 2018).
 See Ewing.