Friday, October 17, 2008

Presidential Signing Statements

A signing statement is a written pronouncement issued by the President of the United States upon the signing of a bill into law.

There is an ongoing controversy concerning the extensive use of signing statements by President George W. Bush to modify the meaning of laws. In July 2006, a task force of the American Bar Association described the use of signing statements to modify the meaning of duly enacted laws as "contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers".[1]

While it is in theory possible for other executives to issue signing statements, there is no record of notable signing statements by anyone other than an American president.

Excerpt from a New York Times article:

These things create uncertainty in the law that should not be there,” Mr. Cooper said.

The White House has defended Mr. Bush’s use of signing statements as lawful and appropriate. But in 2006, the American Bar Association called the device “contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers.”

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.

Additional resource:

Current thinking in the White House makes it pretty clear that the President of the United States is above the law -- at least the parts of the law that pose impediments to the preferred modus operandi.

- Should the president be free to pick and choose which parts of the law he/she is going to uphold?
- If not, what should the consequence be.
- If so, does this put us on the path to a monarchy, dictatorship or theocracy?

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