Posted in American History, essay, history, Politics, Uncategorized

The Amendments: Twenty

The twentieth Amendment is a long one, and it changes quite a few things.  It all relates to the timings and elections of Presidents, Vice Presidents, and congress as well as what to do in situations where the President/Vice President can not take office.


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.


Section One:

This section moves up the date that starts the terms of Congress & The President.  Before this, everything started in March.  So for those of you attend inaugurals and want to yell who thought about having an ceremony during the winter, blame this amendment. This was actually passed during FDR’s presidency so his first inaugural in 1932 was held in March, but subsequent inaugurals were held in January.

Section Two:

I honestly don’t get this second.  Apparently Congress is only constitutionally obligated to meet one day a year in January unless they lawfully choose another date.   At least we can be assured the Congress does a little more then the constitutionally stated minimum.

Section Three:

This section deals with the presidential line of succession.  I’m surprised they wanted this long to come up with one formally (I don’t believe this is listed as detailed in the original article) since several presidents by this point have died in office due to assassination or natural causes. This mainly deals with president-elect, however.  If a President dies between being elected and being sworn in, the Vice President-elect shall take his place.  If somehow the presidential-elect’s qualifications are suspect, then the Vice President-elect can take over till either they are approved, or another president is chosen.  If neither qualify, then its up to Congress to choose the next president.  Thankfully I don’t think its ever gotten to that point.

Section Four:

This is a continuation from section 3.  If things have gotten bad enough that either no one gets final qualifications or everyone keeps dying, Congress has the power to enact laws to to figure out what to do.

Section Five:

This section is pretty simple – its the enaction date for sections 1 & 2 (The inaugurals and how often Congress has to meet constitutionally.)

Section Six:

Also pretty simple.  This section gives a ratification deadline and points out that until its ratified it is not law.

The 20th Amendment was ratified in January 1933, and went into enforcement later that year.


A thirty-something Graphic Designer and writer who likes to blog about books, movies and History.

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