The Law: The “Protective Return” Pocket Veto: Presidential Aggrandizement of Constitutional Power



    1. Distinguished service professor of political science at the State University of New York at Cortland. His books include The Presidency and Public Policy, The Presidential Veto, President and Congress, The Politics of Gun Control, and The Right to Bear Arms.
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  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wish to thank Louis Fisher for his incisive comments and suggestions in pursuing this research.


This article discusses the all-but-unknown practice of recent presidents to exercise a so-called “protective return” veto, whereby presidents simultaneously exercise both a return veto and a pocket veto for individual bills. Defended by recent administrations as a defense of the existing pocket veto power, this article argues that it is in fact an attempt to create a practical absolute veto, a power rejected by the Constitution's founders. Veto history and evolution are examined to explain and analyze this effort to redefine the president's constitutional veto authority.