More on fixed term presidencies (this just in from France)

Laurence Claus lclaus at
Wed Nov 9 15:09:30 PST 2005

If a president were mentally compromised in a way that made his cabinet 
feel less secure (e.g. if the president made wild threats to fire them all, 
or to initiate a potentially cataclysmic policy, like nuclear first 
strike), then I think the 25th amendment procedure would probably be 
invoked. But if presidential health problems actually make key cabinet 
members feel more secure (and more influential), then they’ll likely see 
little reason to disturb the status quo.

Laurence Claus
University of San Diego School of Law

At 02:08 PM 11/9/2005, Sanford Levinson wrote:
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> From tomorrow's NYTimes re current events in France:
>Mr. Chirac, who suffered what is believed to be a minor stroke in 
>September, has made only one public appearance to comment on the riots 
>since Oct. 27, and he appeared fatigued when he made a short statement Sunday.
>Asked to comment, Mr. Chirac's chief spokesman, Jérôme Bonnafont, said: 
>"The president is in excellent health. He is carrying on with his 
>activities in a manner that is absolutely normal."
>Some observations:  a)  I take it that it is a given that presidents (and 
>Chief Justices?) around the world are narcissistic re recognizing when it 
>is time for them to depart gracefully.  I presume that the French don't 
>have an equivalent of the ADA that makes it illegal to suggest that a 
>president who has suffered even a mild stroke should consider resigning 
>or, if the system allows is, going on extended leave.
>b)  I take it that it is a given around theh world that loyal presidential 
>aides lie through their teeth about the health and/or mental condition of 
>their bosses.
>c)  I gather that the French system has no equivalent of the 25th 
>Amendment, but
>d) So what?  Does anyone seriously believe that the 25th Amendment will be 
>invoked anything short of a persistent vegetative state?  E.g., what will 
>we find if and when the historical archives about the onsest of Reagan's 
>Alzheimer's become available.  Were we functionally in a situation similar 
>to the disgraceful last two years (almost) of the Wilson 
>administration.  Had there been a 25th Amendment, do we think that the 
>Wilson Cabinet would have made Vice President Thomas Marshall (best known 
>for his line about America's need for a good five-cent cigar) the 
>President?  Is the 25th Amendment an example of a very good idea that is 
>in fact inefficacious because, as suggested in a) and b) above, relevant 
>people in authority aren't going to act until there is literally no 
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