Clinton v. City of New York Case Brief

Facts of the case

This case consolidates two separate challenges to the constitutionality of two cancellations, made by President William J. Clinton, under the Line Item Veto Act (Act). In the first, the City of New York, two hospital associations, a hospital, and two health care unions, challenged the President’s cancellation of a provision in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 which relinquished the Federal Government’s ability to recoup nearly $2.6 billion in taxes levied against Medicaid providers by the State of New York. In the second, the Snake River farmer’s cooperative and one of its individual members challenged the President’s cancellation of a provision of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. The provision permitted some food refiners and processors to defer recognition of their capital gains in exchange for selling their stock to eligible farmers’ cooperatives. After a district court held the Act unconstitutional, the Supreme Court granted certiorari on expedited appeal.

Why is the case important?

President Clinton’s exercise of power under the Line Item Veto Act of 1996 to make cancellations in a Congressional Act was held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States because the President must either veto the entire law or approve the entire law.

Question

Whether the provisions in the Line Item Veto Act that allow the President to cancel certain types of provisions of a law are constitutional.

ANSWER

No. Judgment affirmed. There is no provision in the Constitution authorizing the President to enact, amend, or repeal statutes, although he may initiate and influence legislative proposals. Cancellations are the functional equivalent of partial repeals of Acts of Congress. The Line Item Veto Act gives the President unilateral power to change the text of enacted statutes. The Act’s cancellation provisions violate Article I Section:7 of the Constitution.

CONCLUSION

On review, the United States Supreme Court affirmed that the cancellation procedures set forth in the Act violated the Presentment Clause of the Constitution, U.S. Const. art. I, § 7, cl. 2. The Court held that constitutional silence on the subject of unilateral Presidential action that either repeals or amends parts of duly enacted statutes is equivalent to an express prohibition. Thus, cancellations pursuant to the Act had no legal force or effect and failed to satisfy the procedures set out in Article I, § 7.

  • Advocates: Charles J. Cooper Argued the cause for the appellee City of New York Louis R. Cohen Argued the cause for the appellee Snake River Potato Growers Seth P. Waxman Argued the cause for the appellants Louis R. Cohen for Snake River Potato Growers
  • Appellant: Clinton
  • Appellee: City of New York
  • DECIDED BY:Rehnquist Court
  • Location: The White House
Citation: 524 US 417 (1998)
Argued: Apr 27, 1998
Decided: Jun 25, 1998
Clinton v. City of New York Case Brief