You might think the Democrats’ procedural extremism to oust President Trump would wind down as the election gets closer with polls showing a large Joe Biden lead. But that underestimates their fanatic animosity. Now they’re invoking the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to declare the President non compos mentis.
On Friday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced legislation that would pave the way for an unelected committee to work with the opposition party to strip a President of his powers under the 25th Amendment. Mrs. Pelosi said the legislation, written by Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, “is not about President Trump.” She also said, 25 days before the election, that “it’s not about the election at all.”
Mrs. Pelosi wants to distance this 25th Amendment ploy from her party’s years-long effort to overturn the 2016 election results, but even the press corps was skeptical. Mrs. Pelosi said later in her presentation that “any of us who is under medication of that seriousness”—referring to President Trump’s coronavirus treatment—“is in an altered state.”
We’re tempted to ignore this idea as insane, but you have to inspect the details to see just how nuts it is. Mr. Raskin’s legislation is based on Section IV of the 25th Amendment, which provides that the Vice President and a majority of the President’s cabinet or “of such other body as Congress may by law provide” can declare the President “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” The President is then temporarily stripped of his powers pending Congressional intervention.
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Mr. Raskin’s trick is to create a “bipartisan” 16-member committee for declaring the President incapacitated. Half of the members would be appointed by Democratic and half by Republican Congressional leadership. Eight would be doctors, including four psychiatrists, and another eight would be “former high-ranking Executive Branch officers.”
These 16 committee members would appoint a 17th member. If asked by a majority in both houses of Congress, they would “carry out a medical examination of the President.”
Why not cut the bureaucratic pretense and simply call this committee the Presidential Sanity Tribunal?
The 25th Amendment was a serious attempt to manage genuine presidential incapacity, and Presidents Reagan and Bush invoked it voluntarily when they underwent medical operations. But the Pelosi proposal would make the 25th Amendment a weapon for political scheming and abuse.
Currently, a majority of the President’s own Senate-confirmed appointees needs to agree he is incapacitated. Under Mr. Raskin’s legislation, commission members selected by the party opposing the President would need only one more vote to have a majority. The commission would also be required to submit to Congress a report “describing the findings and conclusions of the examination.”
Per the 25th Amendment, the commission would need the Vice President’s agreement to strip the President of his power. Most Vice Presidents would not be eager to participate in such a political dirty trick—certainly not the current one.
But Mr. Biden might want to watch his back if he wins and opposes Mrs. Pelosi one too many times on legislation, or stumbles one too many times in a speech. Kamala Harris has that lean and hungry look.
For an idea of the medical professionals Democrats in Congress might install on such a commission, look at the white-coat cable news pundits who attack the President, or the authors of the 2017 book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.” When opposing parties control Congress and the White House, there would be pressure for members to abuse medical judgment for partisan ends.
The legislation is unlikely to pass even after a 2020 Democratic sweep, if only because any self-respecting President would veto it. But Mrs. Pelosi’s promotion of the 25th Amendment fantasy, even as voters are about to have their say, shows again that the left has always rejected Mr. Trump’s legitimacy—and how much his opponents have entered their own “altered state” shorn of emotional and constitutional moorings to drive him from office.
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