ABA on King George W's signing statements

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The American Bar Association is critical of Bush’s signing statements, and ABA president Michael Greco notes, "We will be close to a constitutional crisis if this issue, the president's use of signing statements, is left unchecked." The Washington Post article includes this passage about the ABA task force:

Task force members said the nature of the challenges has also changed under Bush, with many objections being lodged under the "unitary executive" theory, the idea that congressional checks on the president's power are limited.

If the president has constitutional problems with a bill, the task force said, he should convey those concerns to Congress before it reaches his desk. The panel said signing statements should not be a substitute for vetoing bills the president considers unconstitutional.

"The President's constitutional duty is to enforce laws he has signed into being unless and until they are held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court or a subordinate tribunal," panel members wrote. "The Constitution is not what the President says it is."

The New York Times piece covering the ABA report notes that:

The bar association panel said the use of signing statements in this way was “contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers.” From the dawn of the Republic, it said, presidents have generally understood that, in the words of George Washington, a president “must approve all the parts of a bill, or reject it in toto.”


The issue has deep historical roots, the panel said, noting that Parliament had condemned King James II for nonenforcement of certain laws in the 17th century. The panel quoted the English Bill of Rights: “The pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of Parliament, is illegal.”

update (3:01pm):
The ABA’s press release is here, and the full report—which has a great history of signing statements—is here (150KB PDF).

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on July 24, 2006 12:35 PM.

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