Since Donald J. Trump upset the political apple cart with his victory in the 2016 presidential election, he has faced partisan opposition to every decision. Anti-Trump protesters and politicians have tried numerous ploys to remove President Trump from his duly appointed office and failed – so far.
Not content to abide by the law of the land, one Democrat is now actively trying to change it. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) recently submitted a bill to Congress that essentially rewrites the twenty-fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Mr. Blumenauer gives H.R. 2093 the short title: “Strengthening and Clarifying the 25th Amendment Act of 2017.” He doesn’t seem to want this bill to be considered an actual change to the amendment, but rather a clarification of it. This desire may stem from the fact that the Constitution can only be amended by a two-thirds majority vote of both the House and the Senate or by ratification by three-fourths of the states. This nigh-impossible feat has only been accomplished twenty-seven times out of the approximately 11,699 attempts between 1789 and January 3 of this year. The bill does not just clarify the twenty-fifth, of course. Mr. Blumenauer describes more of a change than a clarification in Section Two:
The purpose of this Act is to provide for an alternative body to transmit a written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office in accordance with section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution.
The first paragraph of section four of the twenty-fifth amendment, as shown at Archives.gov, states:
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.
According to his opinion piece published in The Oregonian, Mr. Blumenauer believes that the “other body as Congress may by law provide” is too vague and that the “officers of the executive departments” – the cabinet – and the Vice President are naturally biased against removing the president. However, the amendment is not vague. The Vice President and the members of the cabinet can declare the sitting president unfit for duty. The president can’t fire the Cabinet for doing this, as he or she would be required to either step down immediately or face removal by Congress. Just in case this does become an issue, the amendment leaves open the possibility for Congress to form a different group specifically to address the question of the president’s ability to do the job at the time that it is needed.
Instead of allowing Congress the option to address who should form such a group when the need arises, Earl Blumenauer proposes that a permanent body of living former presidents and vice presidents be established to evaluate the sitting president’s fitness to lead. Such a panel would take power away from the people and Congress and gives it to the former presidents, so long as none of them have successfully been impeached and convicted by the Senate – something that has never happened.
This panel of former executives will only disband when there are less than two members and will reform when there are once again at least two. It would, therefore, be a permanent body with authority over the current president. In addition to death, a simple majority vote is all that would be required to remove members from the body.
Why would a Representative want to take that kind of power away from the Vice President, Cabinet, and Congress and give it to a group of former presidents? Mr. Blumenauer claims that no one is better suited to determine the president’s ability to fulfill his duties than those who have already successfully held the office. There is some good sense to that point. However, a quick look at who would be on that body reveals another possible motive. There are six Democrats: Walter Mondale, Al Gore, Joe Biden, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. There are only four Republican: George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Dan Quayle, and Dick Cheney. Keep in mind that both Donald Trump and Mike Pence could not join the initial group because they currently hold office.
Six Democrats and four Republicans would, theoretically, vote on President Trump’s ability to lead. Since a simple majority vote can remove members of the electoral body, it is entirely possible that six Democrats alone would unanimously remove Donald Trump from the office of the President.
The future ramifications are even worse. Even if Trump remains president, both he and Mike Pence could be voted off the political island by the potential six-two majority. If H.R. 2093 passes and becomes law, Congress will form a permanent body with the power to deny any future president who isn’t a Democrat from occupying his or her duly elected office. This body could then exist, in exactly that form, until such a time as all but one Democrat member dies and there are at least two Republicans alive to reform the group.
Whether it is considered a constitutional amendment or not, it is beyond unlikely that this bill would be passed by the Republican majority in Congress. The Constitution clearly does not permit such a body to exist – especially not permanently – because it represents an imbalance of power. And in the end, this attempt to transfer the power to remove a president based on the votes of a handful of politicians appears to be another naked attempt to find an extraconstitutional path to removing a president the left despises.
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