Scholars explain the 25th Amendment and its use in removing a president deemed unfit to serve
TAMPA, Fla. - The top Democrats in Congress are calling for President Donald Trump to be removed from office and stripped of his powers before his term ends by invoking the 25th Amendment.
"I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
The 25th Amendment is broken up into four sections that detail the steps and policies for removing or replacing a president, temporarily or permanently.
"The 4th section is about declaring a president incapacitated or unable to fulfill the duties of the presidency," explained University of Central Florida political science professor Aubrey Jewett. "And so that is the one that everyone’s talking about right now."
"This section, the declaration of incapacity by others, has never happened since the 1960s when this 25th Amendment came into being, when it was ratified," UCF political science lecturer John Hanley said.
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The 25th Amendment was adopted in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to help clarify the chain of events required if the president or vice president needs to be replaced. It was ratified in 1967.
Invoking it would require Vice President Pence and a majority of the president's cabinet to declare Trump unfit for office.
"Under this act, if it was invoked, it would theoretically be possible to put Trump on the sideline and have Mike Pence be the acting president for the rest of this term," said Jewett.
The official process involves letters of declaration, a chance for the president to dispute, and the possibility of a vote in Congress.
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Trump only has 13 days left in office, so using the 25th Amendment would have to happen quickly. Experts say there are several major concerns.
"When push comes to shove, I think it’s gonna be difficult for it to go through," Hanley said. "I think having it out there as a potential threat to the president may have some usefulness."
"It would be a very dramatic step, obviously, to have the president be declared unfit by his vice president and a majority of the cabinet members who he appointed himself," added Jewett.
So far, Pence has not said publicly if he will attempt to use the 25th Amendment.
"There’s a momentum to this now that I think is at a critical point and I think we need to act and we need to act quickly," Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL 13) said.
Crist says this is a right-versus-wrong moment, not right-versus-left.
If Trump is not removed under the 25th Amendment, Pelosi has threatened to pursue impeachment for a second time.