The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: “[In case of a dispute between the President and the Vice President about the President’s ability to assume the duties of the office of President] Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter [Vice President’s] written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”
This provision gives Congress the power and authority to decide whether or not the President is fit to resume the duties of his office. It also sets a fairly high bar for the Vice President to jump over in order to keep the power and authority of the office. Two-thirds vote of both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives is fairly hard to obtain. If Congress were to vote against the President, it would probably have a good reason to do so.
W. Cleon Skousen shared his concerns about this provision: “The requirement of a two-thirds vote to keep the President form resuming his office was designed to overcome the possibility of the vote dividing along partisan lines. There must be a strong feeling in both parties that the President is still disabled or he will be allowed to resume his office.
“The glaring fallacy in all of this is that an ambitious Vice President, who may have initiated this unseating of the President in the first place, is still acting as President during the time the matter is being adjudicated. An interval of this kind could be contrived by a Vice President and a dominant bloc in Congress to get through a critical bill which they know the elected President would veto. Such contriving to manipulate the machinery of government is an established segment of federal political history and should not be overlooked.” (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 761.)
If I had not lived through the previous seven years of the Obama Administration, I would think Mr. Skousen was paranoid when he wrote those words. Now, I too am concerned a possible hostile takeover of the powers of the President of the United States!