Dean's Lecture - Brian Kalt

Start Date
Monday, October 19, 2020 - 4:00 pm
End Date
Monday, October 19, 2020 - 5:00 pm
Event Audience
Event Description

The Many Misconceptions About Section 4 of the 25th Amendment

When a fictional U.S. President’s grip on power is threatened in books, TV shows, and films, Section 4 of the 25th Amendment takes center stage. But Section 4’s text is confusing in places and it leaves several crucial questions unanswered without outside information. Section 4’s portrayal by Hollywood—sensationalized and often inaccurate—has not helped matters. This lecture will provide the basics, dispel the confusion, and debunk some common misunderstandings about Section 4.

Recently, a growing chorus of President Trump’s critics have called for the 25th Amendment to be invoked against him, and wonder why Section 4 is sitting unused on the constitutional shelf. This lecture will answer that question too.

This lecture is not about President Trump as such; it will offer no opinions about his fitness or unfitness for office. But the Trump Presidency has made Section 4 more prominent in the public’s consciousness than ever before. This represents a rare opportunity for people—ardent Trump opponents, ardent Trump defenders, and everyone in between—to educate themselves about this arcane constitutional provision. Ideally, this moment of uncommon interest in Section 4 can become a moment of uncommon understanding.


Brian C. Kalt is Professor of Law and Harold Norris Faculty Scholar at Michigan State University. His scholarly focus is on structural constitutional law, particularly concerning the presidency. He is the author of numerous articles and three books, most recently Unable: The Law, Politics, and Limits of Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. Before coming to MSU in 2000, Professor Kalt was an associate at the Washington D.C. office of Sidley Austin. He earned his juris doctor from Yale Law School, where he was an editor on the Yale Law Journal. After law school, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Danny J. Boggs, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.


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