Review by Choice Review
It is amazing that no analytical book-length account of the presidential veto has been written since 1890. This excellent work by Spitzer, a noted presidential scholar, addresses this need and does so comprehensively and definitively. Spitzer begins with a commentary on the origins of the veto in ancient Rome and proceeds with the veto's evolution through the 18th century, focusing on the British and Colonial experience. This sets the historical and theoretical context of the veto as it was understood by the Founders at the Constitutional Convention. Spitzer's analysis of the Philadelphia Convention and the subsequent ratification debate sheds valuable light on the Founders' intention. The veto was seen as a revisionary power, not simply as a blocking device. It is Spitzer's well-argued contention that this revisionary sense was lost in subsequent political squabbling. After tracing its evolution from Washington to Reagan, Spitzer argues that the use of veto has been a key component of the long-term increase in presidential power. Ironically, despite the veto's anti-majoritarianism, it has served to reinforce the plebiscitarian quality of the modern presidency. Spitzer also analyzes the pocket veto and concludes with some speculations on the appropriateness of a presidential line-item veto. A well-written blend of theory and practical politics. It deserves to be included in all college collections. Lower-level undergraduate students. -M. A. Kulbicki, York College of Pennsylvania
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.