The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Digital Library

THE ESTABLISHMENT AND FIRST USES OF THE 25TH AMENDMENT

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Prior to the ratification of the 25th Amendment, the rules of succession to the Presidency were constitutionally vague. The Constitution did not specify whether the Vice President would become President or Acting President if the President were to die, resign, be removed from office or become disabled.

Due to the lack of clarity, some Presidents and their Vice Presidents took it upon themselves to draft agreements for handling Presidential succession and inability. These agreements specified the terms for declaring a President unable to perform the duties of office, and the terms for re-instatement once able to return to duty.


Gerald R. Ford and members of the press at his Vice Presidential confirmation hearing before the Senate Rules Committee, 11/1973.

On January 6th, 1965, Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana and Representative Emanuel Celler of New York introduced joint resolutions in the Senate and House of Representatives aimed at clarifying and defining the rules on Presidential succession and inability in the Constitution. The Bayh-Celler proposals, which formed the foundation of the 25th Amendment, refined the processes of declaring a President incapable of fulfilling the duties of office and filling a Vice Presidential vacancy.

Congress approved the 25th Amendment on July 6, 1965, the States completed ratification by February 10, 1967, and President Lyndon Johnson certified the amendment on February 23, 1967.

The first use of the 25th Amendment occurred in 1973 when President Richard Nixon nominated Congressman Gerald R. Ford of Michigan to fill the vacancy left by Vice President Spiro Agnew’s resignation.

In less than a year, the 25th Amendment would be used again. This time when Vice President Ford became President after Richard Nixon resigned, and he nominated Nelson Rockefeller to fill the Vice Presidential vacancy left by him.

 

Digitized Holdings on the 25th Amendment

History of the 25th Amendment

Ford Nomination and Confirmation as VP

Rockefeller Nomination and Confirmation as VP

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