Book Book

Presidential Disability

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 10 November 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1134
  1. John Bunker, visiting professor of epidemiology and public health
  1. University College London

    Papers, Discussions, and Recommendations on the Twenty-Fifth Amendment and Issues of Inability and Disability in Presidents of the United States

    Eds James F Toole, Robert J Joynt

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    University of Rochester Press, £80, pp 562 ISBN 1 58046 069 0


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    On the assassination of John F Kennedy in November 1963, Lyndon Baines Johnson became president of the United States. He had had a severe heart attack in 1955. As there was no constitutional provision for the succession of a new vice president, if Johnson had died or become unable to exercise his responsibilities after succeeding to the presidency, the aged speaker of the House of Representatives, John McCormick, would have become president.

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    Garfield: incapacitated

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    Wilson: stroke

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    Roosevelt: heart disease

    If the assassin had been just a bit off target and had left Kennedy seriously disabled, there was no precedent or constitutional provision to deal with the ensuing crisis of …

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