I am wondering that if a U.S. President is intent on launching nuclear missiles against a foreign enemy of the United States, and he/she has verbally informed the Vice President and his/her Cabinet that he/she intends to do so, could the President be immediately stopped from doing so by the Vice President and members of his/her Cabinet immediately enacting the 25th Amendment?

They would have to go on to prove that the U.S. President is incapable of mentally and/or physically performing the duties of the Presidency, yet during this time of examination and assessment, would it be true that the U.S President would be prohibited from launching nuclear missiles?

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    I'm reasonably sure that they've keep the last couple of Presidents away from sharp cutlery, let alone the nuclear codes.
    – Richard
    May 15, 2022 at 15:49
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    That's not what "enactment" means.
    – hobbs
    May 15, 2022 at 16:57

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The 25th Amendment is crystal clear that the VP and a majority of the cabinet can declare in writing to the president pro tem of the Senate and the speaker of the house a presidential inability, whereupon the VP becomes the acting president. The president can then immediately transmit in writing his declaration that there is no inability, and then he resumes his position as president until the VP and majority of cabinet (not necessarily the same members) again declare a disability, within 4 days. If that happens, then Congress decides the matter. There is a 28 day period for a super-majority of Congress to make that decision, plus 48 hours for assembling of Congress is not in session.

The problem is that the amendment says that the president resumes his powers unless something happens within 4 days. It does not say that he must wait 4 days to see what the VP response is. If the VP does not counter-respond immediately, then it is possible, but not guaranteed, that the president regains power until the VP reaffirms the disability. This is a question that would have to be decided by SCOTUS. In the presumably short interim, there would be serious constitutional questions as to the legality of the actions of either POTUS or VPOTUS.

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    Likewise, this can be used by VPOTUS to temporarily steal control and launch nukes, can it?
    – Greendrake
    May 15, 2022 at 11:21
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    @Greendrake It just shows that ultimately, what matters, regardless of the law, is whether the Defense Secretary and the Joint Chief of Staff consider that whoever made the call was legitimate or not.
    – Maxime
    May 15, 2022 at 14:27


The 25th amendment is crystal clear that once the Vice-President and a majority of the cabinet have provided a written notice (text or email will do) to both the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President’s powers immediately transfer to the Vice-President as Acting President.

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