Under the Progressive notion of a “living” Constitution, almost every aspect of the Constitution has been subject to reinterpretation. One section that would seem to defy a new interpretation, however, is Article I, Section 7, Clause 2 – or the “Presentment Clause” – which clearly outlines the process by which a bill becomes a law.
As Michael Rappaport explains in the latest Constitutional Guidance for Lawmakers essay, “The Presentment Clause ultimately drafted by the Convention was one of the most formal provisions in the Constitution. The Framers apparently feared that factions would attempt to depart from the constitutional method for passing laws and therefore they spelled out that method in one of the document’s longest provisions.”
Yet despite the careful detail the Founders took with this clause, lawmaking today often looks quite different. Instead of exercising their constitutional responsibility, Congress regularly delegates their legislative powers to administrative agencies (see Constitutional Guidance for Lawmakers No. 1 on Article I, Section 1: “Legislative Powers: Not Yours to Give Away”). Restoring the proper lawmaking process should be the first order of business for the 112th Congress.