Part III Section 4 in “Practice”, 10 The Four-Day Wait
Brian C. Kalt
When a President responds to a Section 4 action by declaring that she is not disabled, she does not take power back immediately—the Vice President and Cabinet are given four days in which to challenge her, during which time the Vice President remains in charge. But many people have misread this provision and think that the President retakes power immediately upon declaring she has recovered. Though the odds of a President following this misinterpretation may be small, the stakes are potentially enormous. A president who immediately regained control could purport to fire the Cabinet members who voted against her, which (according to her side) would prevent the remaining procedures in Section 4 from taking place. In that situation, the country could have two presidents leading two cabinets unless the correct understanding of Section 4 is widely known among the administration and by the public.
This chapter offers proof of the correct interpretation of the four-day waiting period. It is clear from Section 4’s plain text, its legislative history, and its basic structure.