A federal judge Thursday declared President's Clinton new line-item veto authority unconstitutional.
"The Line-Item Veto Act is unconstitutional because it impermissibly disrupts the balance of powers among the three branches of government," said U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan.The act, the judge said, "impermissibly crosses the line between acceptable delegations of rule-making authority and unauthorized surrender to the president of an inherently legislative function, namely, the authority to permanently shape laws and package legislation."
Hogan's ruling, while important, will likely not be the final word in the case. Ultimately, the issue is likely to be decided by the Supreme Court.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani initiated the challenge to the 1996 line-item veto act. The law gives Clinton unprecedented authority to reject specific sections of spending bills without vetoing the entire measure.
But Hogan ruled that Congress may not "delegate its inherent lawmaking authority."
The city maintains Clinton unfairly targeted New York when he canceled a section of the federal budget bill that would have let the city and state raise taxes on hospitals and pass those charges along to the federal government in the form of Medicaid billings.
Plaintiffs in the case argued that the line-item veto violates bedrock principles separating the functions of the Congress, which creates laws, and the executive branch, which administers them. But supporters of the act maintain it only grants the president limited discretion on some federal spending bills.