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Wednesday, October 10, 2007
posted by Timotheus | 1:33 PM | permalink
Mitt called Rudy out yesterday on his efforts back in the day to overturn the federal line-item veto. Rudy, of course, responded saying that the line-item veto is unconstitutional and claiming that as a strict constructionist, which he clearly is not, there was nothing to be done about it.

Several presidents, including Ronald Reagan, George Bush 41, Bill Cinton, and George Bush 43 have asked for the line-item veto from Congress. The line-item veto was part of the Contract with America with which Republicans swept into Congress in 1994, led by Newt Gingrich. Minus Bill Clinton, a pretty good group of guys for Mitt to be with.

As you may know, when Rudy was mayor of New York, President Clinton "line-item vetoed" a sizable chunk of entitlement spending, that was headed to New York, in order to balance the budget. Whenever a Republican candidate thinks that there should be more entitlement spending than Bill Clinton did, you should be very, very concerned.

Well, the mayor sued the President and won in the case of Clinton v. City of New York. So, Rudy got his money and the line item veto went away, well maybe. As noted above, Bush 43 has requested it be passed again and Rudy's buddy McCain has been supportive.

For those unfamiliar with the debate, one might think that Rudy is right by saying it is a matter of strict construction. I just want to point out that at least one good strict constructionist, appointed by Ronald Reagan, disagrees...

I give you excerpts from the dissent of Justice Scalia:

"The Presentment Clause requires, in relevant part, that '[e]very Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives 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,' U. S. Const., Art. I, §7, cl. 2. There is no question that enactment of the Balanced Budget Act complied with these requirements: the House and Senate passed the bill, and the President signed it into law. It was only after the requirements of the Presentment Clause had been satisfied that the President exercised his authority under the Line Item Veto Act to cancel the spending item. Thus, the Court's problem with the Act is not that it authorizes the President to veto parts of a bill and sign others into law, but rather that it authorizes him to "cancel"-prevent from "having legal force or effect"-certain parts of duly enacted statutes."

"Insofar as the degree of political, "law-making" power conferred upon the Executive is concerned, there is not a dime's worth of difference between Congress's authorizing the President to cancel a spending item, and Congress's authorizing money to be spent on a particular item at the President's discretion. And the latter has been done since the Founding of the Nation."

"The short of the matter is this: Had the Line Item Veto Act authorized the President to "decline to spend" any item of spending contained in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, there is not the slightest doubt that authorization would have been constitutional. What the Line Item Veto Act does instead-authorizing the President to "cancel" an item of spending-is technically different. But the technical difference does not relate to the technicalities of the Presentment Clause, which have been fully complied with; and the doctrine of unconstitutional delegation, which is at issue here, is preeminently not a doctrine of technicalities. The title of the Line Item Veto Act, which was perhaps designed to simplify for public comprehension, or perhaps merely to comply with the terms of a campaign pledge, has succeeded in faking out the Supreme Court. The President's action it authorizes in fact is not a line item veto and thus does not offend Art. I, §7; and insofar as the substance of that action is concerned, it is no different from what Congress has permitted the President to do since the formation of the Union."

My Anaylsis:
For those of you unfamiliar with legal opinions and Justice Scalia's method of writing, he just said, if you think that the "line-item veto" should have been found unconstitutional because of a strict reading of the constitution, you don't know what you are talking about.

For those of you who are familiar, I don't know about you, but if I find myself on the wrong side of a Justice Scalia dissent, I usually have some soul searching to do about my commitment to a strict construction of the Constitution.
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Rudy's argument about "constructionalist" and "line item veto being unconstitutional" is a bunch of B.S. You don't get any more constructionalist than Scalia.

Congress always has the power to over-ride a veto if there is ample support, so this veto does not give too much power to the executive branch. The line item veto was a divided Supreme Court ruling (6-3) and we need a president who will fight to have that over-turned.

The president has no way to battle pork barrel spending of congress without this tool...I agree with Romney wholeheartedly.

This is yet another issue where Romney proved that Giuliani is not the man we want for president. Giuliani knew his position here would not sit well with republicans so all he could do was put some spin on it by saying he beat the Clintons. Very Weak.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 10, 2007 at 3:36 PM  

Great post, Timotheus.

And not to butt in, but Team Romney has a press release on a similar vein, which is here:

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