Georgetown University Law Center professor Heidi Li Feldman discusses the history of the 25th Amendment.
This lesson looks at the 25th Amendment which deals with presidential disability and succession. Students will view videos of experts talking about the history of the amendment, the need for the 25th Amendment and processes established by its four sections. Students will use this information to determine the circumstances in which the 25th Amendment can be used.
To introduce the concept of presidential succession and the 25th Amendment, have the students read the text of the 25th Amendment. For each of the four sections, they should provide a one-two sentence summary explaining what it says in their own words.
Reading: The Twenty-Fifth Amendment (Google Doc)
After reviewing the students’ summaries of each of the sections of the 25th Amendment, have students use the following handout to view videos of experts discussing the history of the 25th Amendment and when and how it can be used.
Handout: The Twenty-Fifth Amendment (Google Doc)
Students will complete the charts on the handout to explain the reasons for the ratification of the amendment and the process that each section establishes.
Teachers can encourage students to use the guiding questions associated with each video clip to help structure their responses.
Video Clip 1: The History of the 25th Amendment (3:54)
How was the original process for presidential succession too vague? What are historical examples of this?
How did the Kennedy assassination impact the passage of the 25th Amendment?
Video Clip 2: Historical Uses of the 25th Amendment (1:47)
When was the 25th Amendment added to the Constitution?
What does Section One say? When has it been invoked?
What does Section Two say? When has it been invoked?
What does Section Three say? When has it been invoked?
Video Clip 3: Presidential Disability and the 25th Amendment (3:09)
Why was the 25th Amendment created?
What process does Section Three of the 25th Amendment set up?
When has Section Three of the 25th Amendment been invoked?
Video Clip 4: Section Four of the 25th Amendment (2:30)
What is the process for invoking Section Four of the 25th Amendment?
APPLICATION AND CONCLUSION:
After having students explore the history and content of the 25th Amendment, students will use this information to either engage in a class discussion or provide a written response to the following prompt. Students should use historical examples and support from the video clips to address this question.
Historical Examples- View the two historical examples from the video clips linked below. For each, address the following questions.
Video Clip: President Nixon Resignation (2:05)
Video Clip: The 25th Amendment and the Reagan Assassination Attempt (2:47)
Video Clip: President Bush on Transfer of Power and Sedation (3:35)
Which section of the 25th Amendment does this situation apply to?
How would you change the current rules relating to presidential disability and succession?
How are the processes included in the 25th Amendment examples of checks and balances?
Why was the 25th Amendment needed?