• We The People Podcast

The Pandemic, the President and the 25th Amendment

October 08, 2020

In light of President Trump and numerous other high-ranking government officials recently contracting COVID-19, this week’s episode explores the 25th Amendment, which outlines what happens if the president becomes unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office. We explore questions related to current concerns including: should President Trump have invoked the 25th Amendment when he was in the hospital? And questions that have arisen throughout American history such as: What happens if a vacancy in the office of president or vice president arises? What mechanisms does the 25th Amendment lay out for coping with that situation, and what scenarios does it fail to provide solutions for? What if the president is unable to fill his role but won’t step aside? And more. Host Jeffrey Rosen is joined by constitutional scholars David Pozen and Brian Kalt, who wrote an essay explaining the 25th Amendment for the National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution which you can read here.



David Pozen is the Vice Dean for Intellectual Life and the Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He has also edited two volumes for Columbia University Press, on transparency (2018) and free speech (2020), and been a semi-regular contributor to the Balkinization and Lawfare blogs.

Brian C. Kalt is a Professor of Law and the Harold Norris Faculty Scholar at Michigan State University Law School. He's the author of several books including Unable: The Law, Politics, and Limits of Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. 

Jeffrey Rosen is the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization devoted to educating the public about the U.S. Constitution. Rosen is also professor of law at The George Washington University Law School and a contributing editor of The Atlantic.


This episode was engineered by Greg Scheckler and produced by Jackie McDermott. Research was provided by Alexandra "Mac" Taylor, Ashley Kemper, and Lana Ulrich.

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