Josiah Bartlet Presidential Library
 
Did you know that President Josiah Bartlet is the only United States President in history to temporarily resign the Presidency under the rules of the 25th Amendment for reasons other than medical?  [Interestingly, the two times that a President temporarily handed power over to the Vice President were for colonoscopies: Ronald Reagan in 1985 and George W. Bush in 2002 and 2007.]  Contrary to popular believe, when President Reagen was shot in 1981, the 25th Amendment was not invoked.  Neither was it invoked when President Bartlet was shot in Roslyn, Virginia.

When his daughter Zoe was kidnapped in May, 2003, following her graduation from Georgetown University in order to prevent undue influence on the Oval Office, President Bartlet resigned temporarily.

Under Section 3 of the 25th Amendment, "whenever the President transmits to the
President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President ... Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office."

However, Vice President John Hoynes has resigned that office earlier in the month, so there was no Vice President to take over.  Under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, after the Vice President the next in line of succession is the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

When Zoey Bartlet was kidnapped, the Speaker of the House was Glenallen Walken, a Republican from Missouri.  By turning over power to his political rival, Jed Bartlet proved the enduring power of the United States Constitution.  While Democratic leaders were disturbed by this transition, Republican leaders were in awe of Jed Bartlet's patriotism.  "He showed that the office matters more than the man," one GOP insider said.

Of course, the nightmare ended when Zoey Bartlet was found and returned to her family and President Bartlet resumed his duties as President.


-- Martin, Resident Historian
 


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