Section 3 of the 25th Amendment
Text of Section 3:
"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."
As of 2017, the provisions of Section 3 of the 25th Amendment have been its most implemented, occurring on three occasions.
The first of these occurred on July 13, 1985 when President Ronald Reagan transferred executive authority to Vice President George H.W. Bush before undergoing surgery for colon cancer..
The second and third would occur during the administration of George Walker Bush, who would briefly step aside in favor of Vice President Richard Cheney. These invocations occurred while President Bush underwent colonoscopy procedures.
Author's Notes and Comments
When Section 3 was written into the 25th Amendment, its authors had envisioned its implementation in any number of what would be rather harrowing circumstances. Fortunately, in practice thus far the circumstances of its invocation have been rather mundane - footnotes in American presidential history.
The first was one scenario envisioned by its authors: President Reagan, about to undergo surgery for colon cancer and uncertain of his recovery period, opted to have Vice President George H.W. Bush act in his stead until he recovered. The only contemporary criticism of his invocation was that Reagan's advisors pushed him to resume his powers sooner than perhaps was necessary.
While completely appropriate from the perspectives of constitutionality and continuity of government, the two Bush invocations were made with a bit of a paranoid mindset - that, in the million-to-one chance that terrorists attached the United States while the President was undergoing his colonoscopy, Vice President Cheney could wield executive authority without question.
The Bush invocations, while completely appropriate from the perspectives of constitutionality and continuity of government, were made under a somewhat paranoid mindset - that, in the million-to-one chance that terrorists attacked the United States while Bush was undergoing a colonoscopy procedure, Vice President Cheney could act as President without question of his authority.
In each of these cases, invocation of Section 3 of the 25th Amendment was at least partially justified - if nothing else, erring on the side of caution. There are a number of other instances where its invocation would have been appropriate as well: Nixon's phlebitis attack, the Reagan assassination attempt, while Bush underwent treatment for Graves Disease, during Clinton's impeachment trial, and so forth.
But in practice thus far, it's somewhat ironic and amusing that the three invocations of Section 3 have - in one respect or another - involved presidential rectums. Perhaps it's more than coincidence.