Cultural Revolutions

Line Item Veto Act

The Line Item Veto Act has been struck down by the Supreme Court. As I predicted in the February issue of Chronicles ("Reining in the Feds"), the Court (in Clinton v. City of New York) declared that the act violated the Constitution's Presentment Clause, which commands that a bill passing both the House and the Senate "shall, before it becomes a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections." hi the six-to-three decision written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court reasoned that the line item veto allows the President to create "a different law—one whose text was not voted on by either House of Congress or presented to the President for signature." Though acknowledging that the President does have a limited role in the legislative process, the Court properly concluded that the Constitution does not permit him to enact, amend, or repeal statutes.

In arguing for the Line Item Veto Act, the government asserted that the cancellations were exercises of discretionary authority granted to the President, and that the vetoes were merely executive decisions declining to spend appropriated funds, an act called "impoundment." The government based the first argument on Field...

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