Date: February 28, 1931
Location: Northampton, MA
The power of the President to veto legislation is one of the most important checks of our constitutional system. It would be difficult to demonstrate that any refusal to approve an act of the Congress has caused great harm, while it is easy to discover vetoes that have been of great benefit to the country. Legislators will often approve a bill which an individual would reject, because functioning through mass action divides and dilutes their responsibility. Moreover, the President represents all the people, while a Senator or a Representative usually considers only his constituents.
Generally, the power has been used sparingly. Eight Presidents never resorted to it. Washington returned but two bills, Lincoln but three. Cleveland holds the high record, having disapproved 343 measures.
The veto power is not a method by which the judgment of one man is to be used to override the judgment of the Congress. It is to provide opportunity to reconsider a doubtful measure. The knowledge that legislation will be reviewed, that it may be disapproved in a public statement by the President has a distinctly deterrent and sobering effect. The veto power safeguards the rights of all the people.
Citation: Calvin Coolidge Says: Dispatches Written by Former-President Coolidge and Syndicated to Newspapers in 1930-1931 (Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation)
The Coolidge Foundation gratefully acknowledges the volunteer efforts of Robert Manchester who prepared this document for digital publication.