The Constitution: The Art of Amending

Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that "in the case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President." But what constitutes presidential disability? Who judges it? What would have happened had John Kennedy not been killed by an assassin's bullet but had lived on, seriously injured?

Vice Presidents have long hesitated to stand in for disabled Presidents. In 1881 the country was leaderless for the 80 days that Garfield lay dying. During Wilson's...

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