Part III Section 4 in “Practice”, 9 Tough Calls
Brian C. Kalt
The hypothetical situations in this chapter raise more difficult issues. Here, the President might suffer from dementia or a stroke but be unaware of her lost faculties. Mental illness might cause a president to become unable to discharge his powers and duties, but could be difficult to diagnose. If the President is able to contest a Section 4 action, he will find it easy to retake power unless his disability is substantial.
Other cases covered in this chapter include a traveling President out of communication with the White House may necessitate giving power to the Vice President if decisive action is needed; and a President under criminal prosecution. Finally, the Vice President and Cabinet may worry that a possibly disabled President is on the verge of creating an imminent catastrophe. Even if Congress does not uphold the Vice President’s decision, invoking Section 4 would provide time to remove the nuclear button from the President’s hands.