Note: this piece was originally published in Reason, and was written by Checks & Balances member Ilya Somin.
Last night, President Trump announced that he and his wife Melania have both tested positive for the Coronavirus. This has led to speculation about what might happen if Trump becomes too incapacitated to continue serving as president, has to drop out of the election, or both. The former issue is governed by the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. Legal scholar Brian Kalt, who literally wrote the book on this subject, addressed the relevant issues in a recent Washington Post op ed:
The key provision is the 25th Amendment…. Enacted in the 1960s after John F. Kennedy was assassinated and at the height of the Cold War, the 25th Amendment finally provided a clear process, with the aim of ensuring that there is always a hand at the helm.
Section 3 of the amendment allows the president to transfer power voluntarily to the vice president. To do this, Trump would send formal notice to the speaker of the House and president pro tempore of the Senate, declaring that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Upon transmitting this declaration, Vice President Pence would become acting president — those powers and duties would all go to him. Whenever Trump felt able again, he would send a new declaration and immediately take back control…..
Continue reading at Reason.