Amendment XXV – Presidential Succession (1967)

The Twenty-fifth Amendment states that:

“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.”

The Twenty-fifth Amendment was added to the US Constitution for clarifying the issues related to the disability, death, removal, and resignation of the President or Vice President.  This establishes the procedures for filling the vacancy of President and Vice President Office.

A person holding the office of the President or the Vice President of the United States is vulnerable to death, removal, resignation or any other disability.  This can create a vacuum in the daily operation of the federal government.  Therefore, the plan of “succession” is essential.

The Twenty-fifth Amendment replaced the part of Article II, section 1 of the U.S.  Constitution.  On February 10, 1967, the Twenty-fifth Amendment was ratified and absorbed into the U.S. Constitution.  This amendment guaranteed a stable transition of the incapable President or Vice President during their terms of service.

The Twenty-fifth Amendment affirms that the Vice President becomes a President when the President is removed from the office by force, death or for any other reason.  The President has the power to select a new Vice President when the Vice President’s office becomes vacant on similar grounds.  Selection of the Vice President by the President needs approval or confirmation by the House of Representatives and also the Senate.  This amendment provides that the President can issue a written notice about his inability to exercise his powers and responsibilities to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, for a temporary step down.  In such circumstances the Vice President is authorized to step in as the Acting President to exercise the President’s duties.  The President can resume his office to exercise his powers and responsibilities by a written notice to President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.  The Twenty-fifth Amendment also enables the Vice President to take charge as Acting President if the Vice President along with the majority voters of the President’s cabinet submits a letter to the Congressional leadership about the President’s inability in exercising the powers and responsibilities.  However, if the Congress does not, by two-thirds vote of each house, declare that “the President is unable to discharge his office,” the duties automatically return to the President and the Vice President’s service as Acting President ends.


Inside Amendment XXV – Presidential Succession (1967)