Amid widespread protests and worrying signs of dysfunction in the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, millions across the United States are likely wondering how, or if, it’s possible to oust the billionaire from the White House before the 2020 presidential election. While there have long been talks of impeachment hearings, a favorite theory this week for removing Trump from power involves the 25th amendment to the Constitution.
The amendment was approved in 1967, pushed into existence in the wake of the stunning 1963 death of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas. The Constitution had never officially laid out a succession plan that detailed how, exactly, a vice-president should take power should a president no longer be able to carry out his or her duties. Up until the amendment, vice presidents effectively took over because of a precedent set by Vice President John Tyler in 1841, according to the National Constitution Center. The 25th amendment clearly spelled out that a vice president took over if a president died, resigned or, importantly, was removed from office.
The amendment opened the door for removal if a president was deemed to be unfit for office, different from an impeachment hearing that typically centers around investigating if a president acted illegally while in office.