ArtI.S7.C2.1 Enactment of Legislation

Article I, Section 7, Clause 2:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

The President is not restricted to signing a bill on a day when Congress is in session.1 He may sign within ten days (Sundays excepted) after the bill is presented to him, even if that period extends beyond the date of the final adjournment of Congress.2 His duty in case of approval of a measure is merely to sign it. He need not write on the bill the word approved nor the date. If no date appears on the face of the roll, the Court may ascertain the fact by resort to any source of information capable of furnishing a satisfactory answer.3 A bill becomes a law on the date of its approval by the President.4 When no time is fixed by the act it is effective from the date of its approval,5 which usually is taken to be the first moment of the day, fractions of a day being disregarded.6

Footnotes

  1.  Jump to essay-1La Abra Silver Mining Co. v. United States, 175 U.S. 423, 453 (1899).
  2.  Jump to essay-2Edwards v. United States, 286 U.S. 482 (1932). On one occasion in 1936, delay in presentation of a bill enabled the President to sign it 23 days after the adjournment of Congress. Schmeckebier, Approval of Bills After Adjournment of Congress, 33 Am. Pol. Sci. Rev. 52–53 (1939).
  3.  Jump to essay-3Gardner v. The Collector, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 499 (1868).
  4.  Jump to essay-473 U.S. at 504. See also Burgess v. Salmon, 97 U.S. 381, 383 (1878).
  5.  Jump to essay-5Matthews v. Zane, 20 U.S. (7 Wheat.) 164, 211 (1822).
  6.  Jump to essay-6Lapeyre v. United States, 84 U.S. (17 Wall.) 191, 198 (1873).