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更新时间:2018-9-7 20:51:59 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The 25th Amendment: The Difficult Process to Remove a President

The anonymous author of an Op-Ed article in The New York Times wrote this week that there were “early whispers” among President Trump’s advisers about trying to remove Mr. Trump from the presidency by invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which provides a process to declare that the president is unfit for office.


Such a move would be unprecedented, and the author of the essay writes that the discussions did not move forward because “no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.”


The amendment, adopted by the states 51 years ago, provides a complex, difficult process for the removal of a sitting president. Here is a brief history of the 25th Amendment and an explanation of how it operates.


What is the 25th Amendment?


The 25th Amendment to the Constitution is primarily designed to clarify the presidential order of succession.


The first section of the amendment explains what should happen if the president dies, resigns or is removed from office: The vice president becomes president immediately.


The second section makes it clear that when there is “a vacancy in the office of vice president,” the president shall nominate a replacement, who will take office once he or she is confirmed by majorities in both houses of Congress.


The third section allows the president to temporarily delegate his responsibilities to the vice president, who then operates as acting president until the president informs congressional leaders that he is able to resume his duties.


The fourth section provides a multistep process for the vice president and a majority of the officials who lead executive agencies — commonly thought of as the cabinet — to declare that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” That process ultimately requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress.


How did the 25th Amendment come about?


In the aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, there was some confusion about how to choose a new vice president after Lyndon B. Johnson became president. And there was concern about what might happen if Johnson fell ill or was incapacitated before his replacement was found. Congress formally proposed the 25th Amendment in the summer of 1965, and the amendment became part of the Constitution in February 1967, after 38 states ratified it. (Nine more states later ratified it. Three — Georgia, North Dakota and South Carolina — have never ratified it.)

1963年,约翰·F·肯尼迪(John F. Kennedy)遭到暗杀,在林登·B·约翰逊(Lyndon B. Johnson)担任总统后,就如何选择新的副总统出现了一些混乱。有人担心,如果约翰逊在找到替代者之前生病或丧失工作能力,可能会发生问题。国会在1965年夏天正式提出了第25修正案,经38个州批准后,于1967年2月成为宪法的一部分。(另有9个州后来批准了它。乔治亚、北达科他和南卡罗来纳这三个州从未批准过。)

Has it been used before?


Since its adoption in 1967, the first three sections of the 25th Amendment have been used several times.


The first and second sections were used in 1974, when Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency and was replaced by Gerald Ford, his vice president. Mr. Ford subsequently nominated Nelson Rockefeller to be vice president, and Mr. Rockefeller was confirmed by the House and the Senate.

第一款和第二款于1974年使用,当时理查德·M·尼克松(Richard M.Nixon)辞去总统职务,由副总统杰拉尔德·福特(Gerald Ford)取代。福特随后提名纳尔逊·洛克菲勒(Nelson Rockefeller)担任副总统,洛克菲勒得到了众议院和参议院的确认。

Section 3, which allows presidents to temporarily shift their powers and duties to the vice president, was used by Ronald Reagan in 1985 when he underwent a brief cancer surgery. President George W. Bush also invoked the 25th Amendment in 2002 when he underwent a brief medical procedure and transferred his duties to Vice President Dick Cheney for a few hours. Mr. Bush did the same thing again in 2007.

第三款允许总统暂时将其权力和职责转移给副总统,罗纳德·里根于1985年因癌症接受了一次简短的手术,期间曾经援引过它。乔治·W·布什总统在2002年也援引了第25修正案,当时他接受了短暂的医疗程序,将自己的职责移交给副总统迪克·切尼(Dick Cheney)数小时。布什在2007年又做了同样的事情。

The fourth section of the 25th Amendment — the one contemplated by the anonymous author of the essay in The Times — has never been used.


How would it actually work, if invoked now?


The first step would be for Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the cabinet to provide a written declaration to the president pro tempore of the Senate (currently Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah) and the speaker of the House (currently Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin) that Mr. Trump “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” That would immediately strip Mr. Trump of the powers of his office and make Mr. Pence the acting president.

第一步将是由副总统迈克·彭斯(Mike Pence)和大多数内阁成员向参议院临时议长(现为犹他州参议员奥林·G·哈奇[Orrin G. Hatch])和众议院议长(目前为威斯康辛州众议员保罗·D·瑞安[Paul D. Ryan])提供书面声明,称特朗普“无法履行其职务的权力和职责”。这将即刻剥夺特朗普的权力,并使彭斯成为代总统。

But the 25th Amendment would allow Mr. Trump to immediately send a written declaration of his own to Mr. Hatch and Mr. Ryan saying that he is in fact able to perform his duties. That would immediately allow him to resume his duties, unless Mr. Pence and the cabinet send another declaration to the congressional leaders within four days restating their concerns. Mr. Pence would take over again as acting president.


That declaration would require Congress to assemble within 48 hours and to vote within 21 days. If two-thirds of members of both the House and the Senate agreed that Mr. Trump was unable to continue as president, he would be stripped permanently of the position, and Mr. Pence would become president. If the vote in Congress fell short, Mr. Trump would resume his duties.


Would that ever happen?


The authors of the 25th Amendment intended it to be a difficult process that would make it exceedingly rare. They succeeded.


To put it in context, it is even more difficult to remove a president under the 25th Amendment than it is under the impeachment process. A president can be impeached by a simple majority in the House and removed from office by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Removal under the 25th Amendment requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers.