25th Amendment Explained

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The Senate impeachment trials occurred this week, resulting in an acquittal of Former President Donald Trump

Amid the recent events at the Capitol, talks of the 25th Amendment have come to light. With severe backlash surrounding the current president, Congress has called upon Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment; which in simple terms, would remove the current sitting president from action and the Vice President would take over. But there’s a lot more to this amendment than one might think, so here’s the 25th Amendment Explained.

What is the 25th Amendment (in detail)

A complicated amendment, the 25th is one that calls for the removal of a sitting president. Within the 25th Amendment, there are four sections, each explaining a reason as to why a president may be removed from office and replaced with the Vice President.

“The 25th Amendment was created right after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1965. Kennedy was the 8th president to die in office and there still were no constitutional guidelines on who should succeed a president given he became ill or died in office,” stated English and History teacher Ms. Wilcox. “It’s crazy that it took over 120 years after the first president to die in office (William Harrison, who was only president for something like a month) to pass this amendment!”

Section One:
In Section One of the 25th amendment, it states that whenever a sitting president is removed from office, has resigned, or has died, the Vice President will become the President.

Section Two:
In Section Two, it states that when there is a vacancy in the Vice President’s office, the President shall nominate someone who will take office after confirmation of both the senate and the House of Representatives.

Section Three:
In section three of the 25th amendment, it states that whenever a President informs the President Pro Tempore*, the second highest-ranking official in the senate (the first being the Vice President), and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in writing that he is unable to attend to his presidential duties and powers, the Vice President will become the Acting President. The President shall receive his duties back when he declares he is able to attend to his duties and powers. Currently, the President Pro Tempore* is Chuck Grassley, a Republican Senator from Iowa, and the Speaker of the House is Nancy Pelosi, from California.

Section Four:
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of the main officers of the departments of the Executive Branch or of the body of Congress inform the President Pro Tempore*, the second highest-ranking official in the senate (aka Chuck Grassley), and the Speaker of the House of Representatives that the President is unable to attend to their presidential duties, the Vice President shall become the acting President.

Ms. Wilcox stated, “Section 4, however, gives the VP and the executive cabinet the power to immediately give the VP presidential authority if they think the president is unfit or incapable of performing the duties of his office. It has never been used before.”

Once the President informs the President pro tempore, and the Speaker of the House that the President is able to attend to their duties and powers, they shall resume their duties, unless within 4 days the Vice President and a majority of the main officers of the departments of the Executive Branch or of the body of Congress inform the President Pro Tempore and the Speaker of the House of Representatives that the President is unable to attend to their presidential duties. Congress then assembles within 48 hours.

*pro tempore is a Latin phrase that translates to “for the time being” in English.

What called for the use of the 25th amendment this past month?

After the events at the Capitol occurred, Congress felt the need to talk of the 25th Amendment, including many House Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Under the looming threat of insurrection and the possibility of more attacks, Congress began to question the President’s ability to perform his duties and specifically began to look into Section 4 of the amendment. However, invoking the 25th Amendment is much harder than one might think. In order to call this amendment into order, it needs to pass a ⅔ majority vote in both the House AND Senate. This means 290 votes in the House and 67 votes in the Senate.

What’s the difference between the 25th amendment and impeachment?

One major difference between the two are the effects on the Presidential position. If the 25th amendment is used, usually, the president at the time will return to office. In two cases (Reagan and Bush), they voluntarily invoked the 25th amendment in order to undergo medical procedures. However, impeachment can mean the removal of a sitting president from office if passed withImage Credit: luminationnetwork.com a majority in both the House and Senate. Additionally, while the 25th amendment needs a ⅔ majority vote specifically, impeachment only requires a ⅔ vote to convict (remove from office.)

What is Impeachment?
In the past, there have only been 3 presidents who have faced impeachment, Bill Clinton, Andrew Johnson, and Donald Trump, but former President Trump has been the first President to face impeachment twice. Richard Nixon came close to being impeached but resigned before the impeachment process could start. No sitting President has ever been convicted by the Senate.

To be impeached, a President or federal officer must have committed a crime described, in the constitution as, “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Donald Trump is being charged with “inciting violence against the government of the United States”. This comes after the violent acts at the capitol on January 6th. This Impeachment is the first case of charges being brought upon a former president. If Donald Trump is convicted by the Senate, they can also vote to disqualify him from holding any other public office. However, if he is not convicted, he will still be able to run again in the 2024 election. As of January 28th, the Impeachment Trial will be held during the week of February 8th.