The Presidential Veto: Touchstone of the American Presidency

By Robert J. Spitzer | Go to book overview

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The Creation of the Veto

The most important of all the checks and balances is, of course, the presidential veto. . . .

James L. Sundquist ( 1986)

The study of the presidential veto begins with its roots. To understand the antecedents and construction of this key presidential power is to understand much about that power (and the presidency) today. Thus, we begin with a detailed history of the veto power from ancient Rome to the completion of the Constitution. But this book also goes beyond the history of the veto, however, to argue two important points: (1) The veto power, in and of itself, possesses certain traits that transcend its application to American government: and (2) the application and. rise of the presidential veto is symptomatic of the rise of the modern strong presidency. In short, perspectives on the presidential veto reflect perspectives on the presidency itself.


Antecedents of the veto

The veto is a power that transcends the American experience. It is thus important to understand its antecedents, not only because the American founders were influenced by this history, but also because the very nature of the veto power, as it can be traced through history, may be revealed in ways useful to the study of the presidential veto.


Ancient Rome

The Oxford English Dictionary identifies the word veto as deriving from Latin meaning 'I forbid.' In the sixth century B.C., early in the

-1-

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The Presidential Veto: Touchstone of the American Presidency
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - The Creation of the Veto 1
  • 2 - Evolution of the Veto Power 25
  • 3 - The Modern Veto 71
  • 4 - The Pocket Veto 105
  • 5 - The Item Veto Controversy 121
  • 6 - Conclusion 143
  • Appendix 147
  • Notes 153
  • References 159
  • About the Author 173
  • Index 175
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