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December 7, 1994

Presidential Disability and the Twenty-fifth Amendment: A President's Perspective

Author Affiliations

President, United States of America, 1977-1981 Chairman, The Carter Center
From The Carter Center, Atlanta, Ga.

JAMA. 1994;272(21):1698. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520210082037

MANY PEOPLE have called to my attention the continuing danger to our nation from the possibility of a US president becoming disabled, particularly by a neurologic illness. Their concern is shared by a large number of constitutional scholars and physicians. I hope the medical community will support an effort to address this problem.

The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1967, provides a method whereby the president can certify to his disability, transfer his responsibilities to the vice president, and then resume his responsibilities when restored to health. Another section of the amendment makes it reasonably certain that the United States will always have a vice president.

See also pp 1689, 1694, and 1699.

The great weakness of the Twenty-fifth Amendment is its provision for determining disability in the event that the president is unable or unwilling to certify to impairment or disability. In this case, the constitutional duty

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