House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., unveiled a bill Oct. 9 to establish a commission that could be tasked with determining if a president is no longer fit for office.
The bill from Raskin, a former constitutional scholar, comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s Oct. 2 announcement of his positive COVID-19 test. The bill would create what would be known as the ‘‘Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of the Office” in accordance with the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.
The commission would not have the unilateral power to invoke the 25th Amendment and kick Trump or any future president out of the White House. Pelosi and Raskin insisted in a press conference that the move was unrelated to the election less than a month away.
“This is not about President Trump,” said Pelosi. “He will face the judgment of the voters. But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.”
Trump responded to the news by tweeting that Pelosi is angling to one day replace Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris. There is no factual basis to support that claim, and Pelosi would not sit on the commission the bill would create.
Crazy Nancy Pelosi is looking at the 25th Amendment in order to replace Joe Biden with Kamala Harris. The Dems want that to happen fast because Sleepy Joe is out of it!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2020
The Constitution allows for such a commission
The 25th Amendment, established in 1967 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, spelled out general procedures to guide the replacement of a president or vice president in the event of death, incapacitation, resignation or removal from office.
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The first three sections of the amendment lay out the succession plan for when these top two positions go vacant. They also allow the president to declare himself unable to carry out his duties and temporarily transfer the powers of the presidency to the vice president.
The fourth and final section is what’s relevant to Raskin’s bill. The section authorizes the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet, or “of such other body as Congress may by law provide,” to declare a president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
“Legislation like this is provided for in §4,” tweeted Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University and the author of a book on the provision. “It says that the VP and Cabinet invoke §4, but that Congress can legislate a different body to substitute for the Cabinet in that process.”
“It gave Congress the power to replace the Cabinet with ‘such other body’ as it might create by law,” added Joel K. Goldstein, a professor of law emeritus at St. Louis University and the author of two