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Friday, October 5, 2007
posted by Kyle Hampton | 4:40 PM | permalink
In the ongoing battle between Rudy and Mitt over economic credentials, one of the issues being debated is Rudy’s crusade over the line-item veto. The case that deemed the line-item veto unconstitutional (at least as it was then constituted) was Clinton v. City of New York. The majority opinion was written by Justice Stevens. It concluded that the cancellation procedures set forth in the Line Item Veto Act violated the presentment clause (which outlines the procedure for making a bill into law – think back to School House Rock if you need a refresher).

Justice Scalia dissented:
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[.] Clinton, 524 U.S. 417, 469 (1998).
I won’t bore you with the back and forth over the constitutionality of the Line Item Veto Act as it was then written. There are, however, two points to take away from the discussion. First, in reading the case it is easy to see and supremely ironic why Rudy was so determined to fight the line-item veto: “New York has estimated that the amount at issue for the period from October 1992 through March 1997 is as high as $ 2.6 billion.” Rudy was determined to get federal government money. He thought it appropriate that the rest of the country subsidize his city. For someone who is apparently the pinnacle of fiscal conservatism, he fought hard to be on the federal government’s dole.

Second, and I think even more illuminating, is who Rudy thinks is a “strict constructionist”. Apparently Rudy’s idea of a “strict constructionist” is someone who could come out either way on abortion, finds that the constitution mandates taxpayer funding of abortions, and agrees that the line-item veto is unconstitutional. This “strict constructionist” judge of Rudy’s looks more and more to me like John Paul Stevens, who was nominated by a Republican President, Gerald Ford. Of course Justice Stevens would be nobody’s idea of a “strict constructionist”, routinely finding in favor of race-based school classifications, abortion rights, and other “rights” found nowhere in the Constitution’s text. Certainly Rudy’s idea of a “strict constructionist” is not what Republican voters are looking for.

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