Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Twenty-Fifth Amendment

Although William Henry Harrison is the only president to die in office, the incapacity of Woodrow Wilson is often described as the Presidential term where the 25th amendment would have made an important difference. On the other hand, since the enactment of the Presidential Succession Act, there has been at least one occasion for every President where invocation has been seriously considered. On balance, therefore, many commentators have expressed the opinion that the 25th Constitutional amendment should be viewed as doing more harm than good, and predict some occasion in the future when we will consider it a mistake.
There is little question that politicians are ambitious, who will occasionally regard the 25th Amendment as an opportunity to be used as a blueprint for advancement. Rules of the game, so to speak. Balanced against this viewpoint is an equal invitation for ambitious Presidents to conceal their handicaps, opponents in favor, incumbents opposed. The arguments have, so far, not changed with experience.

Originally published: Thursday, August 08, 2019; most-recently modified: Friday, August 09, 2019