UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Bazelon, Chief Judge, Fahy, Senior Circuit Judge and Tamm, Circuit Judge. Fahy, Senior Circuit Judge, with whom Bazelon, Chief Judge, joins.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE TAMM
Appellee, a United States Senator, filed suit against the Administrator of the General Services Administration and the Chief of White House Records seeking a declaration that the Family Practice of Medicine Act (hereinafter, S. 3418) *fn1 became law on December 25, 1970, and an order requiring the appellants to publish the Act as a validly enacted law. *fn2 S. 3418 was passed by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate in the Fall of 1970. *fn3 Appellee was among those Senators who voted in favor of the bill which was presented to the President on December 14, 1970. *fn4 On December 22 both Houses of Congress adjourned for the Christmas holidays, the Senate until December 28 and the House until December 29. *fn5 Before adjourning, the Senate authorized the Secretary of the Senate to receive messages from the President during the adjournment. *fn6 On December 24, the President issued a memorandum of disapproval announcing that he would withhold his signature from S. 3418. *fn7 The President took no further action with respect to the bill. Appellants maintain that this series of events resulted in a "pocket veto" under article I, section 7 of the United States Constitution. Appellee, relying upon the same provision, contends that the bill became law without the President's signature at the expiration of the ten-day period following its presentation to him.
Upon cross motions for summary judgment, the district court granted judgment in favor of appellee. The order of the district court declares that S. 3418 became a law of the United States on December 25, 1970 and that "defendants are under a ministerial, non-discretionary duty to publish said law . . . ." *fn8 Although the district court has retained jurisdiction for the purpose of adjudicating appellee's request for injunctive relief in the nature of a mandamus, further action has been postponed pending this appeal. *fn9
Two questions are presented for review: (1) does appellee have standing to maintain this suit; and (2) did S. 3418 become a law? We conclude that both questions must be answered in the affirmative. I.
The requirement of standing derives from the limitation upon judicial power expressed in the "case" or "controversy" formula of article III of the Constitution. The concept was recently treated by the Supreme Court in Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 731-32, 31 L. Ed. 2d 636, 92 S. Ct. 1361 (1972):
Whether a party has a sufficient stake in an otherwise justiciable controversy to obtain judicial resolution of that controversy is what has traditionally been referred to as the question of standing to sue. Where the party does not rely on any specific statute authorizing invocation of the judicial process, the question of standing depends upon whether the party has alleged such a "personal stake in the outcome of the controversy", Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204, 7 L. Ed. 2d 663, 82 S. Ct. 691, as to ensure that "the dispute sought to be adjudicated will be presented in an adversary context and in a form historically viewed as capable of judicial resolution." Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 101, 20 L. Ed. 2d 947, 88 S. Ct. 1942.
Although he has not been authorized to prosecute this suit on behalf of the Senate or the Congress, appellee offers several alternative theories of standing. *fn10 We agree with the district court that appellee has standing to maintain this suit in his capacity as an individual United States Senator who voted in favor of S. 3418. This conclusion follows from any of the traditional methods of evaluating the standing of a party to sue.
One approach to the question is to inquire whether a "logical nexus" exists between the status asserted by a litigant and the claim sought to be adjudicated. Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 102, 20 L. Ed. 2d 947, 88 S. Ct. 1942 (1968). Examination of appellee's complaint reveals that such a nexus is present in this case. While the complaint is literally addressed to the ministerial duties of certain officials, the legal issue turns on the validity of executive action which purports to have disapproved an Act of Congress by means of a constitutional procedure which does not permit Congress to override the disapproval. If appellants' arguments are accepted, then appellee's vote in favor of the bill in question has been nullified and appellee has no right to demand or participate in a vote to override the President's veto. Conversely, if appellee's interpretation of the veto clause is correct, then the bill became law without the President's signature. In short, disposition of the substantive issue will determine the effectiveness vel non of appellee's actions as a legislator with respect to the legislation in question. This demonstrates a relationship between appellee and his claim which is not only "logical" but real, a relationship which assures that the issues have been litigated with the vigor and thoroughness necessary to assist the court in rendering an informed judgment.
A somewhat different analysis of standing has been employed with respect to parties who challenge administrative action. In Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 25 L. Ed. 2d 184, 90 S. Ct. 827 (1970) the Supreme Court framed the standing issue as follows: (1) does the plaintiff allege that the challenged action has caused him "injury in fact, economic or otherwise;" (2) is the interest sought to be protected "arguably within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional guarantee in question." Id. at 152-53. Appellee's pleading satisfies both inquiries. The complaint alleges an injury to him in his capacity as a United States Senator:
The acts of the defendants have injured the plaintiff as a United States Senator by denying him the effectiveness of his vote as a member of the United States Senate. The plaintiff . . . was among 64 Senators voting in favor of S. 3418 . . . . *fn11
Appellee's asserted interest plainly falls among those contemplated by the constitutional provision upon which he relies. That provision, article I, section 7, is one of several in the Constitution which implement the "separation of powers" doctrine. Taken together, these provisions define the prerogatives of each governmental branch in a manner which prevents overreaching by any one of them. The provision under discussion allocates to the executive and legislative branches their respective roles in the law-making process. When either branch perceives an intrusion upon its legislative power by the other, this clause is appropriately invoked. The gist of appellee's complaint is that such an intrusion has occurred as a result of the President's misinterpretation of this clause and that a consequence of this intrusion is the nullification of appellee's vote in favor of the bill in question; hence, the complaint alleges injury to an interest of appellee as a member of the legislative branch of the government, and interest among those protected by article I, section 7. Appellants insist that only the interests of the Congress or one of its Houses as a body are protected by this provision.
Our conclusion with respect to appellee's standing finds support in Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433, 83 L. Ed. 1385, 59 S. Ct. 972 (1939), which held, inter alia, that twenty state senators who had voted against ratification of a constitutional amendment had standing to challenge the legality of a tie-breaking vote in favor of ratification which was cast by the Lieutenant Governor, the presiding officer of the Senate of Kansas. The Court concluded that the interest of the legislators in protecting the effectiveness of their votes conferred standing to maintain the suit:
Here, the plaintiffs include twenty senators, whose votes against ratification have been overridden and virtually held for naught although if they are right in their contentions their votes would have been sufficient to defeat ratification. We think that these senators have a plain, direct and adequate interest in maintaining the effectiveness of their votes.
Id. at 438. Appellants correctly point out that the votes of the twenty plaintiffs in Coleman had peculiar legal significance as a bloc, i.e. : these votes were sufficient to prevent ratification absent the challenged vote of the Lieutenant Governor. Appellants read Coleman as holding that the plaintiff legislators had standing only as a group for the purpose of protecting the collective effectiveness of their votes. In a like vein, appellants contend that appellee's vote in favor of S. 3418 has no legal significance independent of the other votes in favor of the bill. Any injury to him occassioned by the President's action, it is argued, is "derivative" in nature. *fn12 ...