The Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Its Complete History and Applications

The Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Its Complete History and Applications

The Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Its Complete History and Applications

The Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Its Complete History and Applications

Excerpt

Many profound changes have occurred in the world since the publication in 1976 of The Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Its Complete History and Earliest Applications. Some of these changes have involved the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. This introduction treats these particular changes and assesses their significance in terms of the Amendment.

AN HISTORICAL OVERVIEW FROM 1976 TO 1992

President Ronald Reagan’s Disabilities

THE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT On March 30, 1981, just seventy days into his tenure, President Ronald Reagan exited from the Washington Hilton Hotel after delivering a speech to the Building and Construction Trades Department of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. On his way to the limousine, Reagan smiled and waved as he passed a crowd of reporters who were standing behind a security rope. Mike Putzel, an Associated Press reporter standing with the other reporters, shouted “Mr. President!” in an attempt to ask him a question.

Just then, a shot was fired, followed by a rapid series of five more shots. A look of “stunned disbelief” swept across the President’s face. James S. Brady, his press secretary, was critically injured and fell to the ground. Next to him, a wounded District of Columbia plainclothes police officer, Thomas Delahanty, had fallen. A few feet away, Tim McCarthy, a Secret Service agent, agonized in pain on the sidewalk as a result of a bullet wound. By the sixth shot, police and Secret Service agents jumped on the suspected assailant, a blondhaired man in a raincoat, and wrestled him up against a wall of the hotel. As Mr. Putzel would later recall, Reagan “just sort of stood there when the shots rang out. Then the smile just sort of washed off his face.”

Eyewitnesses said John Hinckley, the assailant, had positioned himself among a crowd of reporters and television crews outside the hotel exit and was only ten feet away when he fired at the presidential

This introduction, plus certain changes in the appendices (see infra, pp. 251, 257, 258 and 259) and additions to the bibliography, is intended to bring this and my earlier book on presidential succession, From Failing Hands: The Story of Presidential Succession (1965), up to date.

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