The line-item veto is the power of the top executive in government, either the president or a state governor, to sign a budget into law while striking out (lining out) certain expense items that the executive disfavors. While this is favored by some conservatives to reduce overall spending, but the U.S. Supreme Court, including solidly textualist judges such as Clarence Thomas, held it to be unconstitutional at the federal level. Many state governors have this power.
Part of the controversy around the line item veto is in the separation of powers in government. The line item veto can be used to change the meaning of passages in a law. Vetoing a 'not' can drastically alter the meaning of a sentence. It has also been used to selectively veto letters and make new law – a power that should not be in the hands of the executive branch.
For example, the passage:
- "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Could be vetoed
well regulate dmil itia, be ing necessar y to the securityof a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms,shall not be infringed."
Which would now read:
- "A late miler of a free state, shall not be infringed."
While many conservatives support a line-item veto in order to reduce spending, a liberal Democrat could just as easily use it to advance left-wing policies. The line-item veto would also give even more power to the executive branch than it has already acquired.
- Byas, Steve (March 26, 2018). Trump Call for Line-item Veto Not a Good Idea. The New American. Retrieved March 26, 2018.