It’s Time to Put Some Muscle Behind the 25th Amendment

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When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee member Jamie Raskin appeared before reporters Friday proposing a plan to assess presidents’ mental fitness, they were filled with predictable questions about Donald Trump.

The president Covid-19 diagnosisHis increasingly erratic behavior and concern about his response to his prescribed medications, including the powerful steroid dexamethasone, made these questions inevitable at a press conference on legislation to clarify how the 25th change works. The amendment was incorporated into the constitution in 1967 to establish contingencies for circumstances in which presidents die or are physically or mentally disabled.

Raskin, a constitutional scholar who was a law professor prior to the election of Maryland voters to Congress, has long advocated the establishment of an independent and impartial commission on the president’s ability to exercise the powers and duties of office. Now the House Speaker is speaking about Raskin’s legislation affecting the section of the 25th amendment This empowers Congress to establish a standing “body” which, in agreement with the Vice-President, may declare that the President “is unable to perform the powers and duties of his office”.

But the Trump era is always about Trump. And with the presidential election less than a month away, questions of whether Pelosi and Raskin were just trolling a troubled president made the discussion even after the speaker said, “This legislation applies to future presidents. However, we are reminded of the need that the current President’s health requires action. ”

So be it.

If Trump’s irrational presidency and the politics that go with it have got us to the point where we can finally resolve fundamental questions about the incapacity and succession of the president, that is a good thing for the future. This country leaves too many constitutional questions open until crises develop – and that is dangerous, Raskin reminds us.

“Look, we understand that in politics, people finger guilty back and forth.” The congressman said Friday. “But the questions raised are of such gravity and of such importance to the nature of our government that we have to consider them constitutionally.” For this reason, we need to set up an institution that is non-partisan and bicameral and is able to judge whether it is in five months, in five years, in 50 years or in 50 years, whatever it is. We live in a time of great chaos – and I want to say that I appreciate what the speaker has to go through on a daily basis to deal with the chaos of politics that has become particularly intense lately – and I know too appreciate seeing that we need to lay some constitutional and institutional foundations in order to deal with the chaos. Our ancestors who wrote the 25th Amendment gave us the tools we need to deal with such crises. “

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