SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – Even a system set up to govern deliberately and approach change carefully benefited from the 20th Amendment, which significantly quickened the rate at which leaders assume power.
Largely because of the lack of technology in colonial times, new presidents and congress originally did not take office until the march after their election. But, by 1933, those long waits and the problems they presented were no longer necessary and eliminated by the 20th Amendment.
"Part of that was travel time and getting word out to everybody who was elected president. But that created this long lame-duck term,'' said Dr. Richard Pacelle, head of Georgia Southern University's Political Science Department. "You'd have this situation where people might be voted out of office in November and still able to make policy for the United States for five more months. So they decided that wasn't a good idea, so let's change that to our current, which is January.''
The 20th Amendment received attention during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton because the final House vote was taken after the 1998 elections and the Senate was not scheduled to hear the case until after the swearing in of the next Congress.