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What does it mean to be ‘mentally unfit’ to hold public office?

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Questions about the mental fitness of elected politicians seem to be popping up more and more—and not by accident. The current Congress is the oldest it’s been in more than 20 years. President Joe Biden is the oldest president to take office at 79. Before Biden, Donald Trump, elected in 2016 at 70 years of age, was the oldest. Both leaders have been subject to questioning about their fitness to hold office in the past because of, among other factors, their advanced ages.  

And the subject is back in the news after the San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that colleagues of Dianne Feinstein, the 88-year-old senator from California, believe her mental acuity is rapidly deteriorating. The lawmakers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, revealed that Feinstein frequently suffers memory lapses to such a degree that they believe she is unable to fulfill her duties. Feinstein’s role in the Senate is significant, particularly if the Democrats maintain their majority, because it places her in the presidential line of succession, observers note

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