Burke v. Barnes - 479 U.S. 361 (1987)


U.S. Supreme Court

Burke v. Barnes, 479 U.S. 361 (1987)

Burke v. Barnes

No. 85-781

Argued November 4, 1986

Decided January 14, 1987

479 U.S. 361

Syllabus

Congress passed a bill conditioning the continuance of military aid to El Salvador upon the President's semiannual certification of that nation's progress in protecting human rights. The President neither signed the bill nor returned it to the House of Representatives where it had originated, claiming that, since Congress had in the meantime adjourned, the bill had been subjected to a "pocket veto." Respondent Members of the House then filed suit against petitioners in Federal District Court, challenging the purported "pocket veto." The District Court granted summary judgment for petitioners. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the bill had become law despite the President's effort to "pocket veto" it, but the bill expired by its own terms a few weeks later.

Held: The case is moot. Article III requires that there be a live case or controversy at the time a federal court decides the case; it is not enough that there may have been a live case or controversy when the case was decided by the court whose judgment this Court is reviewing. Here, any issues as to whether the bill in question became law were mooted when it expired by its own terms, regardless of whether it had been previously enacted into law or not. Any controversy over petitioner Acting Archivist's failure to publish the bill in the Statutes at Large as a duly enacted law or any dispute as to accounting obligations relating to the expenditure of funds under the bill is not sufficient to keep the case from being moot. Pp. 479 U. S. 363-364.

245 U.S.App.D.C. 1, 759 F.2d 21, vacated and remanded.

REHNQUIST, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which WHITE, J., joined, post, p. 479 U. S. 365. SCALIA, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Page 479 U. S. 362



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