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HIDDEN HEALTH DISABILITIES AND THE PRESIDENCY: MEDICAL MANAGEMENT AND POLITICAL CONSIDERATION ROBERT S. ROBINS* AND HENRY ROTHSCHILD^ Have the dangers to public safety and welfare from presidential disability been greatly lessened by the passage of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by more thorough news coverage of the presidency? That common belief is a comforting but false assumption . As in the past, the types ofdisabilities that are likely to endanger the public in the future are not ones such as President Eisenhower's ileitis or President Nixon's viral pneumonia, but, rather, those that may be hidden to all but the president's intimates and that are usually intermittent or chronic. There are ways to deal with this problem, but the Twentyfifth Amendment, shown below, and more active reportage are not among them. AMENDMENT XXV [Proposed by Congress onJuly 7, 1965; decfored ratified on February 10, 1967.] Section 1 [vice president to become president] In case of the removal of the President from office or his death or resignation , the Vice President shall become President. Section 2 [choice of a new vice president] Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take the office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both houses of Congress. ?Department of Political Science, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118. !Department of Medicine, Louisiana State University Medical Center, 1542 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112.© 1981 by The University of Chicago. 003I-5982/8I/2402-0232$01.00 240 I Robert S. Robins and Henry Rothschild · Health Disabilities and the Presidency Section 3 [president may declare own disability] 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 [alternative procedures to declare and to end presidential disability] 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 officer 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 48 hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within 21 days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within 21 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. The Twenty-fifth Amendment is intended to assure prompt and legitimate continuity in the presidency when the president becomes unable to carry out his duties. On the president's recommendation, the powers of the office pass to the vice-president, though the president may demand their return at any time. Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon were the first to draw up such an agreement, later adopted by John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and the Twenty-fifth...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 240-253
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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