A Brief Explanation of the 25th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution

The 25th Amendment ensures that the country has a leader, especially when the President is unable to fulfill his duties.
Historyplex Staff
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Did You Know?
The 25th Amendment was proposed by the U.S. Congress in 1965, and was ratified in 1967, under the presidency of the 36th President, Lyndon Johnson.
There have been several instances in recent history where the Vice President has assumed the duties of the President in cases where the incumbent was unavailable or was unable to carry out his presidential duties. However, this wasn't the case before the 25th Amendment.
Though the motive or cause behind this Amendment is a little unclear, it is believed that the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the impending threat of a nuclear attack during the Cold War prompted its ratification. Following is the summary and a brief explanation of the Twenty-fifth Amendment. The Twenty-fifth Amendment set the protocol of the Vice President in the event that the President is incapacitated to fulfill his duties.
~ Twenty-fifth Amendment Explained ~
Section 1
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

The first section of the Amendment states that in the absence of the President for reasons that may include removal, resignation, or death, the Vice President will assume the duties of the 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.

During the permanent absence of the Vice President, the President can nominate a new Vice President. However, this candidate needs to have the majority of both, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Section 3
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

If the President is unable to perform his duties, he must inform both the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate Pro Tempore in writing. After which the Vice President, will assume the place of the President. This is until the President sends another letter stating that he is able to resume his position as the 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.


If the President is incapacitated and is unable to perform his duties, the Vice President along with the majority of the Cabinet member can send a letter to the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate Pro Tempore, stating that the President is unable to fulfill his duties. After which, the Vice President can immediately assume the position of the President. Once the President can resume his duties, he is required to write to the Congress stating so, after which he can resume the post of the President.
In layman's terms, according to the 25th Amendment, the Vice President will act as President until the President is able to resume his duties.