There’s Another Reason

Eric Felten had an op-ed in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal (I seem to be on a theme here) noting the weakness of the 25th Amendment in temporarily displacing an incapacitated President. He correctly noted that a majority of Cabinet Secretaries must vote to displace the President, and that those politicians [sic] owe their position to the man they’d be moving to displace. That debt likely would prevent a sufficient number of them from making the move.

There’s another reason, though, why the Amendment might not have the teeth it was intended to have. The Amendment also requires the Vice President to vote for removal. If that politician does not, even were the Cabinet unanimous in its vote to remove, the move would fail: the Vice President has that veto power.

What Vice President is going to put his/her own political future in jeopardy with such a move? That politician, by voting to overthrow the President, even temporarily, is too likely to be viewed as betraying his/her erstwhile ally and the one who put him in the role of Vice President. That politician, too, will be viewed as making a grab for personal power, since the Vice President voting to remove the President would himself ascend to the Presidency.

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