Bush Issues More Signing Statements

Yesterday, with just 98 days left in his presidency, President Bush issued more signing statements, signifying that he’s going to ignore parts of laws that he himself had signed.

President Bush asserted on Tuesday that he had the executive power to bypass several parts of two bills: a military authorization act and a measure giving inspectors general greater independence from White House control.

Mr. Bush signed the two measures into law. But he then issued a so-called signing statement in which he instructed the executive branch to view parts of each as unconstitutional constraints on presidential power. …

Mr. Bush has used the signing statements to assert a right to bypass more than 1,100 sections of laws. By comparison, all previous presidents combined challenged about 600 sections of bills.

I hate this shit. It’s blatantly unconstitutional. If you don’t like a bill or think it encroaches upon executive powers, you veto it. You don’t go around the veto by issuing signing statements. It denies Congress the chance to override a veto. Even if there’s practically no chance of an override, it still violates the Constitution.

The American Bar Association agrees.

6 thoughts on “Bush Issues More Signing Statements

  1. Like other forms of abuse of executive power by Bush and his predecessors, the practice of signing statements is difficult to curtail. Because the presidency retains a great deal of discretion in the exercise of power, it is important to let voters know clearly where the presidential candidates stand on such issues as signing statements, claims of executive privilege to withhold information, compliance with congressional oversight and scientific integrity.

    Do the abuses of the Bush administration constitute a precedent for the President-elect to follow? It is important to answer this question before the election rather than finding out the hard way.

    A new WRI policy note reviews the practices of previous administrations in the context of relevant constitutional and legislative provisions, and attests to the vulnerability of a system of delicate checks and balances to abuse of power. It brings to light significant negative impacts that have resulted from an opaque and unchecked presidency and makes the case for better governance in the next administration. Available at: http://www.wri.org/stories/2008/10/presiding-with-principle-restoring-good-governance-us-executive-branch

    Remi Moncel
    World Resources Institute

  2. Pingback: links for 2008-10-15 (Jarrett House North)

  3. It’s not the place of the president to determine what is or is not unconstitutional: that’s the job the judicial branch.

    But perhaps the emper– I mean President straddles both the executive and judicial branches the way the Vice President belongs to both the executive and legislative branch and is therefore answerable to neither (TM Dick Cheney)?

    Why do we still pretend we have a constitution when this is the way it’s treated?

    And what is up with the comments like the one above (#2) that are random quotes from your post?

  4. Comment #2 is a trackback from my friend Tim’s blog to show that he linked to the post. It doesn’t actually quote from my post — it quotes from Tim’s post.

    Actually, one could argue that the president is allowed to judge whether a bill is constitutional or not. If he sincerely believes that a bill is unconstitutional, he has the right to veto it. What he does not have the right to do is sign the law and then effectively use a line-item veto to cross out parts that he thinks are unconstitutional.

    Similarly, a member of Congress who believes a bill is unconstitutional has the right to vote against it.

    But those are regarding bills. Once something has been passed into law, judging its constitutionality is the judiciary’s job.

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