Why it’s hard to remove, or even diagnose, mentally ill or unstable presidents

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Adjunct Professor, John Rogan, co-authored an op-ed published in The Conversation about the lack of protections and recourse available to Congress to diagnose or address a psychologically unable president.

The framers of the 25th Amendment did intend for it to cover cases of psychological inability. One of the principal authors, Rep. Richard Poff (R-Va.), envisioned a president who could not “make any rational decision.”

But the term “unable” in the amendment’s text was left vague to provide flexibility.

Additionally, the 25th Amendment is intentionally hard to use, with procedural hurdles to prevent usurpation of presidential power. Two-thirds of both houses of Congress must ratify an inability determination by the vice president and Cabinet when the president disagrees. Otherwise, the president returns to power.

The bottom line: it is almost impossible to reverse the results of the electoral process and oppose entrenched power even when one is paradoxically trying to preserve the republic.

Constitutions cannot protect against madmen, as he warned, because they create rules and institutions that are only as strong as the people tasked with protecting them.

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