Action the President or a Governor takes to prevent enactment of a bill passed by Congress or state Legislature.
This is a Latin word signifying, I forbid.
It is usually applied to the power of the president of the United States to negative a bill which has passed both branches of the legislature. The act of refusing to sign such a bill, and the message which is sent to congress assigning the reasons for a refusal to sign it, are each called a veto.
When a bill is engrossed, and has received the sanction of both houses, it is transmitted to the president for his approbation. If he approves of it, he signs it. If he does not, he sends it, with his objections, to the house in which it originated, and that house enter the objections on their journals, and proceed to reconsider the bill.
The governors of the several states have generally a negative on the acts of the legislature. When exercised with due caution, the veto power is some additional security against inconsiderate and hasty legislation, or where bills have passed through prejudice or want of due reflection. It was, however, mainly intended as a weapon in the hands of the chief magistrate to defend the executive department from encroachment and usurpation, as well as a just balance of the constitution.
The veto power of the British sovereign has not been exercised for more than a century. It was exercised once during the, reign of Queen Anne. But anciently the king frequently replied Le roy s'avisera, which was in effect withholding his assent. In France the king had the initiative of all laws, but not the veto.