The 25th Amendment was the section of the United States Constitution that codified the Presidential line of succession. It explained to whom the presidency passed in the event that the President was unable to serve his entire term.
According to Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, if a majority of the Cabinet felt the President was unfit for duty, they could remove him from office and instate the Vice President as Acting President. If removed from office, the President would have the right to appeal the decision before Congress in four days. In the event the Cabinet could not reach a decision, the matter would then be taken to the Supreme Court. ("Day 2: 4:00am-5:00am", "Day 6: 9:00pm-10:00pm")
On Day 2, Vice President James Prescott wanted to remove David Palmer from office, feeling that Palmer was delaying unnecessarily in striking three Middle Eastern countries that had been implicated in the terrorist attacks of the day. Planning to invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, Prescott called the Cabinet together via video conference and presented the case that Palmer's behavior had been erratic and he should be removed from office.
The vote among the members of the cabinet came down to the Secretary of State, Alex. In a difficult personal decision, he chose to vote that Palmer was unfit for duty. Prescott assumed the presidency and informed Palmer of his right to protest the decision before Congress.
During the hours before Palmer's removal was made public, Mike Novick asked Palmer to represent the country as head of state to a foreign official. Palmer reluctantly agreed to do so.
Several hours later, when it was revealed that the evidence against Palmer involved the fabricated Cyprus recording, Prescott and the cabinet agreed to reverse their earlier decision. Prescott and the members of the cabinet who voted in favor of Palmer's removal all agreed to resign their positions as compensation for their perceived betrayal; however, Palmer refused to accept their resignations. He did, however, ask for Mike Novick's resignation for his part in the incident.
On Day 4, Air Force One was attacked by Mitch Anderson and suffered an indirect hit. Many of those on board were killed, including the President's son, Kevin. President Keeler himself survived but was incapacitated, and it was not clear if he would survive. Again following Section 4, the cabinet voted unanimously for Vice President Charles Logan to assume the presidency.
On Day 6, Reed Pollock and Bruce Carson conspired and attempted to assassinate President Wayne Palmer with a cassette player bomb. Although he survived the explosion, he suffered severe injuries and was found unconscious. Soon after, he was put into a chemically-induced coma to alleviate cranial swelling caused by the blast. Although the 25th Amendment was not actually formally invoked at the time, Secretary of Defense Ethan Kanin did insist the powers and duties of the Presidential office had, for all intents and purposes, fallen onto Vice President Noah Daniels, and the rest of the cabinet accepted him as essentially Acting President for the following several hours.
When Noah announced he intended to authorize a nuclear strike against the Middle Eastern nation of which the terrorists responsible for a nuclear detonation in Valencia, California that day were citizens, National Security Advisor Karen Hayes believed the plan was too reckless and dangerous to be put into action. As Noah was not even officially Acting President, Karen realized his nuclear strike could be stopped if Wayne were to be brought out of his coma and use his authority to cancel it. Despite his doctor's objections, Wayne was woken up, and called in an order to stand down on the nuclear strike.
It was at this point that Noah, dissatisfied with the prevention of the nuclear launch, moved to convene the cabinet and formally raise the 25th Amendment against Wayne, arguing Wayne was delusional from the wounds he sustained through the attack on his life and was thus incapable of continuing to serve as President. Ultimately, the cabinet's vote on the matter was evenly split, which would have resulted in Wayne's remaining in office. Noah resolved to extend the issue to the Supreme Court instead, based on his claim that Karen was no longer a valid member of the cabinet, as she had resigned earlier in the day and never been officially reinstated to her position. After interference by Chief of Staff Tom Lennox, however, Noah dropped the case and Wayne's position in office was secure again.
Later that night, Wayne Palmer suffered a sudden cerebral hemorrhage and collapsed. After his physician Arthur Welton confirmed he would absolutely be unable to continue serving as President after this incident, Noah Daniels ordered the cabinet to convene over the 25th Amendment yet again. Within minutes, he was confirmed into the office and officially became the Acting President of the United States.
Background information and notes
- The 25th Amendment was ratified on February 10, 1967. It names the Vice President as the President's successor in the event of his death, resignation, or removal from office; grants the President the ability to nominate a Vice President when there is a vacancy; and creates procedures for declaring a President disabled and instating the Vice President as Acting President.