< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: President Bush, Signing Statements, and Executive Power

Friday, July 07, 2006

President Bush, Signing Statements, and Executive Power

In the San Diego Union Tribune there is a good op-ed arguing against President Bush's use of "signing statements," which as the Boston Globe reports are:

...official documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law. The statements are recorded in the federal register. In his signing statements, Bush has repeatedly asserted that the Constitution gives him the right to ignore numerous sections of the bills -- sometimes including provisions that were the subject of negotiations with Congress in order to get lawmakers to pass the bill. He has appended such statements to more than one of every 10 bills he has signed. (The rest of this article can be found by clicking here).

The Op-ed, titled "The Threat of Bush's Signing Statements argues that the President, once again, has overstepped his authority while attempting to expand the power of the executive branch as the article states:

This use of presidential signing statements seems to us clearly to violate the Constitution. Article I of our founding document gives Congress, not the president, the power to make the laws. Article II requires the president to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. The Constitution also gives the president the authority to veto laws that he finds objectionable. And if he does, the Constitution states that Congress may either “override” the veto, in which case it becomes law, or it may sustain it, and the bill will fail.

By signing a particular bill into law and then issuing a signing statement that declares that he will not give effect to it, or to a provision of it, the president effectively circumvents these constitutional requirements, as well as displaces the courts as the final expositor of the Constitution.

The broad use of signing statements is not an aberration for the Bush administration. Indeed, this White House has advocated and pursued the most executive-centered conception of American constitutional democracy in contemporary history. Its reading of the inherent powers of the presidency, especially on matters of national security, has gone largely unchallenged by a supine Congress and a deferential judiciary.

Click here to read the full op-ed.

--Tom Hayes


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