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Clinton v. New York

Citation. 524 U.S. 417 (1998)
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Brief Fact Summary.

New York City and some private organizations challenged the President’s act of cancelling Medicaid program. The challengers met both Article III and standing requirements.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

In cancelling portions of bills, the President must consider that it will reduce the federal budget deficit, not impair any essential government functions and not harm the national interest.


When the Court held that Congress may not challenge the Line Item Veto Act in Raines v. Byrd, President Clinton exercised his authority to allow New York to keep certain funds it would otherwise have had to repay to the federal government under the Medicaid program. Claiming that they would be adversely affected by the cancellation, New York City and private organizations challenged the constitutionality of the Medicaid cancellation.


Does the President have the authority to cancel portions of bills?


No, the President may not cancel portions of the bills. The President is not granted with the power to cancel a bill; he may only veto such a bill under the Constitution. This is because vetoing a bill is subject to being overridden by a two-thirds vote in each House while cancellation of a bill may be done solely by the President without any checks from other branches.


Justice Breyer

The President has not essentially repealed or amended anything. He merely executed a power granted by Congress, which power is contained in laws that were enacted in compliance with the exclusive method set forth in the Constitution. One cannot say that the President’s exercise of the power the Act grants is a repeal or amendment. Just because the Act’s procedure is different from the Constitution’s exclusive procedures for enacting or repealing legislation is beside the point. The means chosen by the President do not amount to the enactment, repeal or amendment of a law nor does it violate the separation of powers principle. Thus, President Clinton’s act is valid.


Justice Kennedy

Unlike what the majority said, liberty is threatened when one branch of the government seeks to transgress the separation of powers. Preventing concentration of power in the hands of a single branch is critical to our liberty. If a citizen who is taxed has the measure of the tax determined solely by the Executive without adequate control and study by Congress, liberty will be threatened.


President Clinton has amended the Act of Congress by repealing a portion of it. Repeal of statutes must conform with Article I, which authorizes the President to enact, amend or repeal statutes but only before it becomes a law. After a bill passes both Houses of Congress, it must be presented to the President, who will have the opportunity to approve, disapprove, or return for revision. Because what President Clinton had done here was the statutory cancellation, which occurs after the bill becomes law, the Presidential action goes against the Constitution.

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