Mrsbenalayat Thumbnail
User-Created Content
By Mrsbenalayat
On July 13, 2020

Lesson Plan: Presidential Veto and Congressional Override

Time Frame for Presidential Veto

Josh Earnest, the White House Press Secretary under President Barack Obama discusses the time frame for the President to decide on signing or vetoing legislation.

Description

The United States Government has a system of checks and balances. This system allows each of the three branches the ability to limit the powers of the other branches. The President in the Executive branch has the power to veto legislation Congress has passed. The Congress has the power to override a presidential veto thus allowing a bill to become a law even if it is vetoed by the president. In order for the Congress to override a veto, two-thirds of both houses of Congress must agree. In this lesson students will explore a historical use of the veto and the veto override through examining the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

Procedures

  • VOCABULARY:

    Before beginning the lesson, have students test their understanding of the following vocabulary words. You may print this out or you may assign it to each student individually using Google Classroom or Schoology or another classroom platform. This activity has 2 pages of vocabulary words.

    Presidential Veto and Congressional Override Vocabulary Drag & Drop Activity (Google Slide)

    • Veto

    • Override

    • Arbitrary

    • Sustains

    • Birthright Citizen

    • Black Codes

    • Dred Scott v Sandford

    • 14th Amendment

    • Forbade

    • Due process
  • INTRODUCTION: Review the following background information with students at the beginning of this lesson:

    The United States Government has a system of checks and balances. This system allows each of the three branches the ability to limit the powers of the other branches. The president in the Executive branch has the power to veto legislation Congress has passed. The Congress has the power to override a presidential veto thus allowing a bill to become a law even if it is vetoed by the President. In order for the Congress to override a veto, two-thirds of both houses of Congress must agree.

    We will explore a historical use of the veto and the veto override through examining the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which was passed after the Civil War during the period of Reconstruction. President Andrew Johnson was President during this time. President Johnson vetoed 29 bills passed by Congress, 15 of his vetoes were overridden by the Congress.

    The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was the first federal law that defined citizenship in the United States. It stated that anyone born in the U.S. was a citizen. This is known as birthright citizenship. The act also affirmed that all citizens should be treated equally under the law. This was a direct reaction to the Black Code laws that many southern states passed during Reconstruction. The Black Code laws were intended to limit the freedom of formerly enslaved citizens. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 reversed the 1857 Supreme Court ruling in the Dred Scott v. Sanford court case. In this case the court ruled that enslaved people even if born in the United States were not citizens of the United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 led to the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868, which added to the Constitution the idea of birthright citizenship and forbade states from denying anyone of “life, liberty, or property” without due process of law.

  • EXPLORATION:

    Ask students to complete the following Graphic Organizer:

    Graphic Organizer: Presidential Veto and Congressional Override (Google Slide)

    Students will click on the links in each box to view short C-SPAN video clips in this lesson and answer the questions in each box.

    Answer Key: Graphic Organizer: Presidential Veto and Congressional Override (Google Slide)

    1. How many days does the president have to either sign a bill or veto it?

    2. How many vetoes have been overridden in the history of our country?

    3. Using complete sentences, explain two accomplishments of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

    4. According to Randall L. Kennedy, why did President Johnson veto the Civil Rights Act of 1866?

    5. Why do you think the Congress believed that this bill deserved to be overridden and then became a law?
  • Wrap-Up:

    In small groups have students discuss the following questions:

    1. Do you think the Presidential veto is a positive or negative to the balance of power of our governments, explain your reasoning.

    2. In order to override a veto Congress must have two-thirds of both chambers agree, do you think this is a fair or unfair number? Explain your answer.

    Give students 3 to 5 minutes to discuss in small groups. Then give students 3 to 5 minutes to complete a Quick Write (Students will jot down their thoughts to these questions. It does not have to be complete questions. It is more free flow of thoughts. It will not be collected). When done ask for student volunteers to share their answers.

Additional Resources

Vocabulary

  • 14th Amendment
  • Arbitrary
  • Birthright Citizen
  • Black Codes
  • Dred Scott V Sandford
  • Due Process
  • Forbade
  • Override
  • Sustains
  • Veto

Topics

Executive BranchU.S. History

Grades

Middle School