* Gov. Pat Quinn was asked by reporters at least twice during a press conference yesterday about whether he actually has the power to use an amendatory veto to drastically change a piece of legislation, as Quinn did yesterday with his assault weapons ban AV. Here’s the first reporter question…
Do you concede there are any limits on your AV power?
* Second question…
Where is there in the Constitution that says the governor can add such substantive language on a different topic to a bill?
Quinn pointed to unnamed Illinois Supreme Court opinions and voter action.
Press conference raw audio…
* OK, let’s go to the Illinois Constitution…
The Governor may return a bill together with specific recommendations for change to the house in which it originated.
And that’s it.
* The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that the governor’s AV powers go beyond just correcting errors or making minor changes. From People ex rel Klingert v. Howlett…
Our examination of the records of the [Illinois Constitutional] Convention shows that the following terms were used to describe the kinds of “specific recommendations for change” that were contemplated: “corrections;” “precise corrections;” “technical flaws;” “simple deletions;” “to clean up the language.” In response to the following question put by Delegate Netsch, however, “Then was it the Committee’s thought that the conditional veto would be available only to correct technical errors?” a committee member answered, “No, Ma’am.”
* However, in the same case the Supremes also ruled on another matter...
The Illinois Supreme Court was confronted with Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie’s amendatory veto which amended the title of the bill and substituted a reworded proposal for all of the text after the enacting clause, although reiterating verbatum much of the language of the bill as originally passed. The court was obviously troubled that the scope of the governor’s authority in the new Constitution was not clearly stated nor could it be found in the committee reports or debates.
The justices did not attempt to delineate the exact kinds of changes that would fall within the power of the governor, but merely stated that “[It can be said with certainty, however, that the] substitution of complete new bills, as attempted in the present case, is not authorized [by the Constitution].” [Emphasis added, and added text from the original opinion can be found here]
* Gov. Quinn’s amendatory veto language begins with this…
* So, Gov. Quinn’s amendatory veto appears to go way beyond even what Gov. Ogilvie tried. The Court has been clear that while governors are part of the legislative process, they cannot erase an entire bill and substitute their own language. Ogilvie used much of the same text from the original bill in his new proposal and the Court still shot it down. Quinn didn’t even bother with that nicety. He just wiped out the underlying bill entirely and wrote his own, new bill.
It’s a moot point, of course. As I told you yesterday, there’s no way this AV is going anywhere. But this sure looks like a major constitutional overreach by Gov. Quinn.
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