Approval by the President

The President is not restricted to signing a bill on a day when Congress is in session.493 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.494 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.495 A bill becomes a law on the date of its approval by the President.496 When no time is fixed by the act it is effective from the date of its approval,497 which usually is taken to be the first moment of the day, fractions of a day being disregarded.498


La Abra Silver Mining Co. v. United States, 175 U.S. 423, 453 (1899). [Back to text]
Edwards 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). [Back to text]
Gardner v. The Collector, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 499 (1868). [Back to text]
73 U.S. at 504. See also Burgess v. Salmon, 97 U.S. 381, 383 (1878). [Back to text]
Matthews v. Zane, 20 U.S. (7 Wheat.) 164, 211 (1822). [Back to text]
Lapeyre v. United States, 84 U.S. (17 Wall.) 191, 198 (1873). [Back to text]