Should the 25th Amendment be used to remove President Trump from office? | The Tylt

Should the 25th Amendment be used to remove President Trump from office?

As the president is dogged by scandal after scandal, and members of Congress continue to indicate an unwillingness to begin impeachment proceedings, many critics are speculating about other ways to remove President Trump from office. One possible avenue is the 25th Amendment, which includes a convoluted path for the vice president, members of the cabinet and Congress to remove the president from the Oval Office. While some argue Trump is unfit and must be removed at all costs, others worry that using the 25th Amendment is too severe a tactic. What do you think?

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Should the 25th Amendment be used to remove President Trump from office?
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Should the 25th Amendment be used to remove President Trump from office?
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The 25th Amendment, which became a part of the Constitution in 1967 after being ratified by 38 states, primarily exists in order to codify presidential succession. In the wake of John F. Kennedy's assassination, lawmakers realized the laws dictating succession were unclear. The Constitution says that "in case of the removal of the president from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office" the vice president will take over the presidency. After Kennedy was shot, questions arose about what to do if the president were to be incapacitated or disabled to the point of being unable to discharge his duties. Additionally, after taking office, Lyndon B. Johnson served for over a year without a vice president, as there were no clear rules dictating succession.

The first three sections of the amendment deal primarily with these issues of succession. The first section simply clarifies what was already in the constitution, stating that if the president dies, resigns or is removed from office, the vice president will immediately take the position. The second section, then, allows the president to name a vice president if the office becomes vacant, pending confirmation by majorities of both the House and Senate. The third section gives the president permission to delegate all their responsibilities to the vice president if they are unable to function. This section is used primarily if the president is going under general anesthesia for a period of time.

The fourth section, however, is the one people are looking to with regards to the Trump Administration. Per The New York Times

The fourth section provides a multistep process for the vice president and a majority of the officials who lead executive agencies — commonly thought of as the cabinet — to declare that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” That process ultimately requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress.
...The first step would be for Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the cabinet to provide a written declaration to the president pro tempore of the Senate (currently Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah) and the speaker of the House (currently Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin) that Mr. Trump “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” That would immediately strip Mr. Trump of the powers of his office and make Mr. Pence the acting president.
But the 25th Amendment would allow Mr. Trump to immediately send a written declaration of his own to Mr. Hatch and Mr. Ryan saying that he is in fact able to perform his duties. That would immediately allow him to resume his duties, unless Mr. Pence and the cabinet send another declaration to the congressional leaders within four days restating their concerns. Mr. Pence would take over again as acting president.
That declaration would require Congress to assemble within 48 hours and to vote within 21 days. If two-thirds of members of both the House and the Senate agreed that Mr. Trump was unable to continue as president, he would be stripped permanently of the position, and Mr. Pence would become president. If the vote in Congress fell short, Mr. Trump would resume his duties.
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Op-ed columnist Ross Douthat argued in favor of using the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump in a May 2017 New York Times piece. Douthat says Trump is not intelligent or conniving enough to have committed "high crimes and misdemeanors," the requirement to initiate impeachment. 

Which is not an argument for allowing him to occupy that office. It is an argument, instead, for using a constitutional mechanism more appropriate to this strange situation than impeachment: the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for the removal of the president if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet informs the Congress that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and (should the president contest his own removal) a two-thirds vote by Congress confirms the cabinet’s judgment.
The Trump situation is not exactly the sort that the amendment’s Cold War-era designers were envisioning. He has not endured an assassination attempt or suffered a stroke or fallen prey to Alzheimer’s. But his incapacity to really govern, to truly execute the serious duties that fall to him to carry out, is nevertheless testified to daily — not by his enemies or external critics, but by precisely the men and women whom the Constitution asks to stand in judgment on him, the men and women who serve around him in the White House and the cabinet.
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Ian Tuttle, a writer for The National Review, disagreed with Douthat's op-ed. Tuttle believed the 25th Amendment is an inappropriate solution to the problem of the Trump presidency.

The first reason pertains to the appropriate function of the amendment. The 25th Amendment’s fourth section (the relevant section for Douthat’s purposes) employs the broad formulation of a president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” But the amendment arose as a response to specific, concrete episodes of physical incapacitation: James Garfield, who spent nearly three months in a coma following an assassination attempt, and Woodrow Wilson, who suffered a debilitating stroke in late 1919 and never fully recovered. These examples of incapacity are very different from what Douthat describes: Donald Trump’s mental stuntedness, emotional instability, and moral decrepitude. Douthat acknowledges that he is talking about a different sort of “incapacity,” but expanding the 25th Amendment to include this vaguer brief could make it a ready weapon for unscrupulous political maneuvering in the future.

Tuttle also believes impeachment is still very much an option for Trump. Yet, the turmoil that using the 25th Amendment would cause, as a whole, gives Tuttle pause. 

My colleague Charles C.W. Cooke wonders “just how much of a psychic shock such a move would inflict upon this country — especially on those voters who backed and liked Donald Trump. . . . How would that look to the people who would believe that Trump had been removed by the very elites he had set out to vanquish?” The obvious answer is that the shock would be massive, and it would almost certainly cement the feeling of alienation that has gripped a non-trivial chunk of the country — the feeling that made President Donald Trump possible in the first place. That a great many Trump supporters misperceived their candidate’s fitness, or have a false picture of their own situation (e.g., that their struggles can be blamed primarily on NAFTA or China or illegal immigrants), may be true; but they remain a significant part of the polity that is finally sovereign over the United States. There are circumstances in which an elite can and ought to act to overturn popular opinion; this was the original impetus for the Electoral College (a safeguard on majoritarian tyranny), and is a power with which we invest the courts. But one dozen highly placed Republicans stripping the president of office against the wishes of millions of voters, even if justifiable on the merits and even with the ex post facto support of congressional supermajorities, would be a crippling blow to many Americans’ belief that theirs is a country of self-rule.
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David Greenberg and Rebecca Lubot argue in a piece for Politico that President Trump's behavior does not indicate an inability to hold the office.

The legislative debate over the amendment and the prevailing interpretations of its meanings suggest that, despite its vagueness, it doesn’t apply to someone like Trump. Trump has an extreme personality, with many negative qualities—as the Times' op-ed writer notes, he is “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” Some might judge him to be a grandiose narcissist or even a pathological liar. But having a personality disorder or even certain forms of mental illness doesn’t necessarily render a president unfit to govern (Lincoln suffered from depression). And in fact, Trump is not “unable” to serve as president, as would be required to invoke the 25th Amendment. He is actually a high-achieving, high-functioning person who has excelled in business, entertainment and now politics. He hasn’t suffered from a crippling stroke, a psychotic break or dementia. He is, we would argue, temperamentally unsuited to be president—but that is a reason to vote against him, not to resort to a never-used clause in a constitutional amendment. If Cabinet officers tried to use Section 4, Trump would surely challenge them in court and in the court of public opinion—setting up a constitutional crisis that would make the Clinton impeachment and Bush v. Gore look like schoolyard spats. Trump might conceivably refuse to leave office even if ordered by the Supreme Court—at which point Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ loyalties would really be tested.
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In the wake of the now infamous anonymous New York Times op-ed, in which an official within the Trump administration said his colleagues had considered using the 25th Amendment to remove the president, Sen. Elizabeth Warren came out in favor of the option.

"If senior administration officials think the President of the United States is not able to do his job, then they should invoke the 25th Amendment," Warren told CNN. "The Constitution provides for a procedure whenever the Vice President and senior officials think the President can't do his job. It does not provide that senior officials go around the President -- take documents off his desk, write anonymous op-eds ... Everyone of these officials have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It's time for them to do their job."
..."What kind of a crisis do we have if senior officials believe that the President can't do his job and then refuse to follow the rules that have been laid down in the Constitution?" Warren told CNN. "They can't have it both ways. Either they think that the President is not capable of doing his job in which case they follow the rules in the Constitution, or they feel that the President is capable of doing his job, in which case they follow what the President tells them to do."
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should the 25th Amendment be used to remove President Trump from office?
A festive crown for the winner
#25thHimOut
#LeaveTrumpAlone