The First Word: The President’s Place in “Legislative History”

This Note examines the extent to which courts interpreting statutes should consider presidential participation in the legislative process. Part I concludes that courts should afford presidential input greater weight in statutory interpretation given the constitutional foundations and the empirical reality of the President’s involvement in the lawmaking process. This conclusion follows from an examination of the President’s authority to propose legislation and his power to review legislation via the presentment clause. To demonstrate the advantages of using presidential documents, Part II considers a series of cases in which courts used executive documents in the statutory interpretation process. Although federal courts have used presidential documents only sporadically, state courts have found many successful ways to use executive materials in statutory interpretation. Part III addresses the practical problems and constitutional concerns associated with using presidential documents for statutory interpretation purposes, and determines that they are illusory. This Note concludes that in many cases, although not all, presidential participation comprises a large part of the legislative process and, therefore, consideration of presidential documents a