Court Hears Line-Item Veto Arguments

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: In another important separation of powers case, Supreme Court Justices heard arguments on the Constitutionality of the line-item veto. Long a Republican cause, a line-item veto finally passed Congress last year with President Clinton's support. But a federal judge struck down the measure earlier this year because in allowing the President to strike specific items from Congressional bills the measure places too much power in the Executive Branch. Lawyer Alan Morrison told justices Tuesday that a line-item veto would allow the President to distort Congress's intentions simply by picking and choosing what he liked in a spending bill. Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger countered by arguing that Congress also has the power to prevent the President from using the line-item veto on specific proposals, through a simple majority vote. The Justices agreed to hear the case on a special fast-track basis, but some of them expressed skepticism that it was the Supreme Court's responsibility to referee this particular argument. A decision is expected by July.