October 15, 2019 | Supreme Court Preview: Will Justices Issue Landmark Abortion Decision?
The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.
Terms of the President and the Vice-President end at noon on January 20th. Terms of Senators and Representatives will begin and end at noon on January 3rd. Terms of the new President and Vice President will begin at noon on January 20. Terms of new Senators and Representatives will begin at noon on January 3rd.
Congress must meet at least once every year, starting on January 3rd, unless they pass a law to pick another day.
If the President-elect dies after the election and before noon on January 20, the Vice President-Elect will become President. If, for some reason, a President is not chosen before January 20, or if the President-Elect does not meet the rules laid out in the Constitution, then the Vice President-Elect will act as President until someone is chosen as President. If neither the President-Elect nor the Vice President-Elect meets the rules laid out in the Constitution, the Congress can decide, by law, who will act as President, how a President should then be picked, and that person will act as President until the Constitutional rules can be followed.
If the Representatives ever have to choose a President, or the Senators ever have to choose a Vice President, and that person dies before they enter office, the Congress can make a law to deal with that.
Sections 1 and 2 will take effect on October 15 after this amendment becomes part of the Constitution.
This amendment will not work unless it is added to the Constitution by the State Legislatures, like the Constitution says, seven years from the day after it is given to the States by Congress.
|Mitigating the Influence of the Lame Ducks||Important Cases|
|The 20th Amendment sought, by constitutional change, to fix a few different problems that had become evident about the structure of the national government. The text of the amendment itself, split into six sections, is fairly straightforward and reads as follows:|
Sections 1 and 2 changed the start date of terms of Presidents, Vice-Presidents, and members of Congress from March, when it was previously set, to January 3rd. Before this change, the so-called “lame duck” session was too long to be productive. Federal elections are held in November – which meant that the old Congress and administration had many months in office before the new elected officials would take their places. Increasingly, the period of time from November through March became impossible to get anything done. The outgoing officials had little effective power, though they were still technically in office. They were “lame ducks,” as the political saying goes. Even though there is still a lame duck period today, it is much shorter than before the ratification of 20th Amendment.
Section 2 also changed a requirement set forth in Article I, Section 4. There, Congress was required to meet every year in December. However, in election years (which, for the House of Representatives is every two years), this mandatory session is a lame duck session. Section 2 of the 20th Amendment, therefore, moved the mandatory session from December to January 3rd, when the new Congress is already in place.
Section 3 (and, more technically, Section 4) also dealt with remedying another concern with the lame duck Congress. Before the 20th Amendment was put into place, in a presidential election year, if no President-elect emerged, the House of Representatives would help choose the President. This, though, could result in a lame duck Congress having a say over the next four years of the country’s political life even though that Congress has already been voted out. To mitigate this , Section 3 specifically deals with when something happens to the President-elect: if he dies or is ill, for example. Now, Section 3 stipulates that the Vice-President-elect would automatically become President. If there is neither person, then Congress is given the power to enact legislation to govern the automatic succession in such a case (which it did in 1947)
Section 5 and Section 6 merely deal with the process of ratification of the amendment itself.