In The Modern Legislative Veto, Michael J. Berry uses a multimethod research design, incorporating quantitative and qualitative analyses, to examine the ways that Congress has used the legislative veto over the past 80 years. This parliamentary maneuver, which delegates power to the executive but grants the legislature a measure of control over the implementation of the law, raises troubling questions about the fundamental principle of separation of governmental powers.
Berry argues that, since the U.S. Supreme Court declared the legislative veto unconstitutional in Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) v. Chadha (1983), Congress has strategically modified its use of the veto to give more power to appropriations committees. Using an original dataset of legislative veto enactments, Berry finds that Congress has actually increased its use of this oversight mechanism since Chadha, especially over defense and foreign policy issues. Democratic and Republican presidents alike have fought back by vetoing legislation containing legislative vetoes and by using signing statements with greater frequency to challenge the legislative veto’s constitutionality. A complementary analysis of state-level use of the legislative veto finds variation in oversight powers granted to state legislatures, but similar struggles between the legislature and the executive.
This ongoing battle over the legislative veto points to broader efforts by legislative and executive actors to control policy, efforts that continually negotiate how the democratic republic established by the Constitution actually operates in practice.
"This is a terrific book. The questions that Slapin asks about intergovernmental conferences (IGCs) in the European Union are extraordinarily important and ambitious, with implications for the EU and for international cooperation more generally. Furthermore, Slapin's theorizing of his core questions is rigorous, lucid, and accessible to scholarly readers without extensive formal modeling background . . . This book is a solid, serious contribution to the literature on EU studies."
---Mark Pollack, Temple University
"An excellent example of the growing literature that brings modern political science to bear on the politics of the European Union."
---Michael Laver, New York University
Veto rights can be a meaningful source of power only when leaving an organization is extremely unlikely. For example, small European states have periodically wielded their veto privileges to override the preferences of their larger, more economically and militarily powerful neighbors when negotiating European Union treaties, which require the unanimous consent of all EU members.
Jonathan B. Slapin traces the historical development of the veto privilege in the EU and how a veto---or veto threat---has been employed in treaty negotiations of the past two decades. As he explains, the importance of veto power in treaty negotiations is one of the features that distinguishes the EU from other international organizations in which exit and expulsion threats play a greater role. At the same time, the prominence of veto power means that bargaining in the EU looks more like bargaining in a federal system. Slapin's findings have significant ramifications for the study of international negotiations, the design of international organizations, and European integration.