Judge Bays discusses presidential succession under 25th Amendment

Judge Bays discusses presidential succession under 25th Amendment

Image: 284th District Judge Kristin Bays spoke to the Montgomery County Tea Party on the 25th Amendment on October 19, 2020.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Conroe, November 5 – With the possibility that liberal election officials and Democratic judges will foist 78-year old former Vice President Joe Biden upon the United States as the 46th President, after questionable vote counting methods, 284th District Judge Kristin Bays’ talk to the Montgomery County Tea Party on October 19, 2020, concerning presidential succession was certainly very timely. In her always entertaining method of explaining complex legal principles, Judge Bays told the Tea Party crowd what will happen “in case of emergency” involving the presidency “to make sure we have presidential succession.”

Judge Bays, in particular, discussed recent legislation, which Congressman Bob Rankin, Republican of Colorado, has proposed and which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed during an Ocotober 9, 2020, news conference.

The District Judge made clear she was expressing no political opinions about the proposed legislation. Instead, she told the crowd of political activists, “I’ll leave it to you what your grassroots heart does after I give you the information.”

Judge Bays noted that Article II, Section 1, of the United States Constitution explains, if there is vacancy in the office of the presidency, then the powers and duties of the presidential office devolve to the vice president.

When does the President become unable to discharge the powers of the office and who makes that call?

In 1963, immediately after the shooting of President John F. Kennedy, questions arose about what would happen if the President became disabled and was unable to discharge the powers of the Office of the President and who should make the call that the President is so unable. “These questions became a national concern after President Kennedy was assassinated. The part of that event which gave rise to the concern was that, when President Kennedy was shot, they didn’t know if he had died and in what condition he was,” said Judge Bays. “There was a concern about what would happen if the President and Vice President were shot, and we needed a national security leader in place in case of emergency, such as the Nation being under attack.”

The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1963, was the answer to that question and provides:

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.

Judge Bays noted that there have been three occasions when the President voluntarily relinquished his power to the Vice President under the provisions of the 25th Amendment “and all involved a presidential colon.” One was when President Ronald Reagan had surgery for colon cancer. Two of the occasions were during the administration of President George W. Bush who had two colonoscopies under anesthesia.
Section 4 of the 25th Amendment involves the “involuntary transfer of power from the President to the Vice President,” Bays noted. “Two groups can invoke the Amendment’s presidential disability provisions: the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet or the Vice President and a ‘majority of such other body as Congress may by law provide.'”
Rankin’s proposed legislation seeks to establish a bipartisan Commission on Presidential Capacity composed of 17 individuals all of whom are medical doctors (including psychiatrists) as well as former executive branch leaders (such as Presidents, former Defense Secretaries, or former Attorneys General). The legislation has a careful procedure for bipartisan selection of the Commission. The bill makes clear that the President need not cooperate with their evaluation.
Judge Bays carefully avoided her personal feelings about the proposed legislation. She did note, however, that the 25th Amendment has left a gap which Congress has not yet filled in how to evaluate a president’s disability.
If election officials and courts determine that former Vice President Biden will, in fact, become the next President, presidential disability is an issue which will confront Americans almost immediately.

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