Presidents Not Signing a Bill
posted by Gerard Magliocca
Over the weekend I was wondering about one way in which a bill no longer becomes a law. Article I, Section 7, gives the President three options about what to do when Congress passes something. He can sign it within ten days. He can veto it within ten days. Or he can do nothing. If he does nothing right before a congressional recess or an adjournment, the law can be pocket vetoed. That happens from time to time.
What presidents do not do anymore is refuse to sign a bill that they don’t like and allow it to become law. This used to happen in the 19th century. At some point, though, this practice died out. Presidents used to refuse to sign as a kind of protest. Today they sign and issue a signing statement listing all sorts of objections to the legislation. Setting aside whether you think that is a valid practice, I’m curious why the “no signing” custom became extinct.