Presidential psychology is quickly becoming a bipartisan issue. Recently, Senators said that GOP colleagues shared the opinion the President is “not right mentally.”
Shortly thereafter, 35 professionals — psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers — took to the pages of tabloids to register their concerns that the President may have emotional instability issues.” These controversial armchair diagnoses are powerless on their own. But what if there was something that Senators and concerned colleagues could actually do? Constitutionally speaking, there might be. Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, that allows the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to send a letter to Congress stating that the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” This letter would immediately initiate a transfer of power to the Vice President, subject to additional Congressional review. While theoretically possible, it is highly unlikely that the Vice President and the Cabinet would unite to remove the President absent a clear incapacitation along the lines President Woodrow Wilson experienced after a stroke. Even if there was a bipartisan consensus that he was unfit to serve, the President would have broad authority to remove his Cabinet before it could take any action.
But there is another provision in the Amendment that has received much less popular attention — one that could allow Congress to play a role in removing the President. And no, it isn’t impeachment. Instead, a little-known provision in Section 4 empowers Congress to form its own body to evaluate the President’s fitness for office, eliminating the need for the Cabinet’s involvement in the process (emphasis ours): 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. In the heat of the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s physician assured the American people that his 70-year old patient would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Congress might have a different opinion. I’m just saying.
Article credit: TIME
Photo credit: Constant Contact