The Presidential Veto Power: A Shallow Pocket

Problems created by the uncertain scope of the President’s pocket-veto power do not often arise, but neither are they a matter of purely academic interest. Indeed, two Senators who have questioned President Nixon’s use of the pocket-veto power base their challenge on the ambiguous language of the pocket-veto provision. They argue that the pocket-veto provision was intended to apply only in circumstances involving a final adjournment at the end of a term or a session of Congress and was not intended to apply to brief adjournments-such as the 1970 Christmas recess-occurring within a session of Congress. Senator Kennedy contends that the President’s pocket veto of the Family Practice of Medicine Act is invalid and that the bill actually became law on December 25, 1970, without benefit of the President’s signature, since he failed to return it on that date to the Senate with a record of his objections. It is thus apparent that the unresolved ambiguities in the scope of the pocket-veto power may bring into dispute the validity of a measure asserted to be law by members of the Congress. When the contrary view is taken by the executive branch, a resolution of the ambiguities is required. This Note will examine the circumstances under which the President may constitutionally invoke the pocket-veto power.