It’s probably just me, but it seems this is the most complex of the all the amendments and carries the unmistakable signature of lawyers writing a contract.
Section 1: In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Section 2: Whenever 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.
Section 3: 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.
Section 4: 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.
Proposed by the Congress on July 6, 1965 it was ratified on February 10, 1967. It found its first use within 7 years, during the Nixon administration.
This amendment traces its history back to the Eisenhower administration when the President suffered a series of heart attacks that incapacitated him for several periods of time. He and his Vice President agreed that Nixon would fill in as President for him during these periods, returning authority as soon as the President was able to assume it.
A practical agreement to be sure, but nothing within the framework of the Constitution defined its legitimacy.
This tradition was carried on by Kennedy and Johnson, but then came that fatal day in Dallas when the President was shot. At first, it was thought by some the President might survive, but if he had he would most certainly be in a coma for an extended period of time. In the age of the Cold War, and the threat of nuclear attack, a vacuum in authority was almost as frightening to our leadership as the loss of the President.
These two events led to the creation of the 25th Amendment defining how power was to transition from the President, to the VP, and back, or how the office of VP would be filled if the President were to be removed from office, either through natural death/incapacitation, assassination, impeachment, or resignation.
The amendment also allows for the removal of the President if the VP and the Heads of the executive Departments (Cabinet), or of some undefined body appointed by Congress, finds the President is not capable of performing his duties. If this were to happen, the VP would become President.
I doubt the framers of this amendment anticipated that just a few years later it would come into play when Vice President Spiro Agnew (R-MD) was forced to resign after pleading no-contest to a charge he had failed to report $29,500 of income in 1967[i]. He was replaced by Gerald Ford (R-MI), who later went on to replace Richard Nixon (R-CA) on his
appointment resignation. He is the only person who has served as
President having never run for the office of President or Vice President, although
he did run as an incumbent, losing to Jimmy Carter.
As the drums beat daily, by those who oppose our current President, take heart! You will always have the 25th Amendment to help, all you have to do is take complete control of the Congress, organize a committee to find him unfit for office and simply upgrade the VP. Sorry, but I don’t think you get to replace both without an election.