In these Remarks delivered at the symposium The Adequacy of the Presidential Succession System in the 21st Century at Fordham University School of Law on April 16, 2010, Fred F. Fielding recounts the moments when he was an “eyewitness” to uses or contemplated uses of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment while serving in the White House Counsel’s Office in three administrations. When he was Deputy White House Counsel in the Nixon administration, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment’s vice presidential replacement provision was used to nominate Gerald Ford to the office. As White House Counsel during the Reagan administration, Fielding was part of discussions about the amendment’s possible invocation in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981. He also oversaw the amendment’s invocation to temporarily transfer presidential powers to Vice President George H.W. Bush when Reagan underwent cancer surgery in 1985. When he returned as White House Counsel in 2007, Fielding oversaw a temporary transfer of presidential powers to Vice President Dick Cheney when President George W. Bush underwent a colonoscopy. Fielding also discusses his work preparing a contingency plans binder for use of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. He created the binder at the start of the Reagan administration and found that it was still in the Counsel’s Office upon his return in 2007.
Fred F. Fielding,
An Eyewitness Account of Executive “Inability”,
79 Fordham L. Rev. 823
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/flr/vol79/iss3/3