The 25th amendment to the United States Constitution is known for explicitly codifying presidential succession and removal. Use with the [united-states] tag

The 25th amendment to the United States constitution is stated below:

Amendment XXV

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon 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 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.

In short it states that:

  1. If the President ends his term prematurely, the Vice President immediately becomes the President.
  2. If the Vice President ends his term prematurely, the President appoints a new Vice President.
  3. The President can send a written declaration to the Vice President that he is unable to exercise the duties of his office. In this case, the Vice President becomes the Actin President until the President issues a declaration stating that he ok.
  4. The Vice President, and a majority of the principal executive officers ("group A" for brevity) can submit a written declaration that the president is unable to exercise the duties of his office. Another group of people as designated by congress may also do this in lieu of group A ("group B" for brevity). Once submitted, the Vice President becomes acting president immediately.

    The president can then submit a written declaration that he is ok. If this happens, then he can exercise his powers as normal, unless group A or group B issue another declaration that he is unfit. Congress then need to assemble with 48 hours if not in session. Once in session, it then has 21 days after this declaration of unfitness to resolve the issue. Both houses have to declare, by 2/3rds vote, that the president is unfit to discharge his duties. Otherwise, the Vice President remains the Acting President.


Relevant Case Law

There is very little case law that deals with the 25th amendment. Below are the few cases that cite the 25th amendment:

  1. Lubin v. Panish held that states cannot require indigent candidates to pay filing fees they cannot afford (unless there are alternative means of ballot access). It only cites the 25th amendment in the following passage:

In sharp contrast to this fear of an unduly lengthy ballot is an increasing pressure for broader access to the ballot. Thus, while progressive thought in the first half of the century was concerned with restricting the ballot to achieve voting rationality, recent decades brought an enlarged demand for an expansion of political opportunity. The Twenty-fifth Amendment, the Twenty-sixth Amendment, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 437, 42 U.S.C. 1973 et seq., reflect this shift in emphasis. There has also been a gradual enlargement of the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection provision in the area of voting rights

  1. Wilson Jones v. Caviness held that the part of the Fair Labor Standards Act that purports to give federal courts jurisdiction over an action against a state for violation of the FLSA's minimum wage and maximum hours provisions in unconstitutional. It only mentions the 25th amendment with specific regard to enforcement clauses.

In the particular context of enforcement clauses-which appear in the 13th, 14th, 15th, 18th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, and 25th amendments-an act is a valid exercise of the enforcement power if it is “rationally related” to the amendment's subject matter.  South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, 324, 86 S.Ct. 803, 816, 15 L.Ed.2d 769 (1966) (13th Amendment);

  1. Estate of Rockefeller v. Comm'r held that the expenses paid by Nelson A. Rockefeller to cover the investigations and congressional hearings surrounding the confirmation of his nomination for Vice President under the 25th amendment cannot be deductible. It doesn't change the 25th amendment in any way, but offers some of the background that went into the ratification of the amendment:

In adopting the Joint Resolution leading to the 25th Amendment, the Congress recognized the essentially political nature of the Vice Presidential nomination-confirmation process. The reports of both the Senate and House Committees contain the following similar paragraphs on section 2 dealing with filling a vacancy in the office of Vice President: