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jAZ
06-28-2006, 04:17 AM
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/06/27/politics/main1755263.shtml

Bush 'Signing Statements' Questioned

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2006
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(CBS/AP) As a Senate hearing into President Bush's prolific use of "bill signing statements" got under way Tuesday, the White House defended the practice, which tends to limit the impact of bills he signs into law, saying it helps him uphold the Constitution and defend the nation's security.

"There's this notion that the president is committing acts of civil disobedience, and he's not," said Mr. Bush's press secretary Tony Snow, speaking at the White House. "It's important for the president at least to express reservations about the constitutionality of certain provisions."

Signing statements are not new, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Fuss, nor is the power of the president to refuse to enforce a law he considers unconstitutional — at least until a court rules on it.

But a number of Democrats, and notably the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, say President Bush, who has never vetoed a bill, has abused signing statements as part of a pattern of taking greater powers.

Such statements have accompanied some 750 statutes passed by Congress, including a ban on the torture of detainees and the renewal of the Patriot Act.

"There is a sense that the president has taken signing statements far beyond the customary purview," Specter, R-Pa., said.

"It's a challenge to the plain language of the Constitution," he added. "I'm interested to hear from the administration just what research they've done to lead them to the conclusion that they can cherry-pick."

Democrats pounced, saying the signing statements are the latest example of the administration's expansion of executive power.

"I believe that this new use of signing statements is a means to undermine and weaken the law," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "If the president is going to have the power to nullify all or part of a statute, it should only be through veto authority that the president has authorized and can reject — rather than through a unilateral action taken outside the structures of our democracy."

A Justice Department lawyer defended Mr. Bush's statements.

"Even if there is modest increase, let me just suggest that it be viewed in light of current events and Congress' response to those events," said Justice Department lawyer Michelle Boardman. "The significance of legislation affecting national security has increased markedly since Sept. 11."

"Congress has been more active, the president has been more active," she added. "The separation of powers is working when we have this kind of dispute."

Specter's hearing is about more than the statements. He's been compiling a list of White House practices he bluntly says could amount to abuse of executive power — from warrantless domestic wiretapping program to sending officials to hearings who refuse to answer lawmakers' questions.

But the session also concerns countering any influence Mr. Bush's signing statements may have on court decisions regarding the new laws. Courts can be expected to look to the legislature for intent, not the executive, said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas., a former state judge.

"The president is entitled to express his opinion. It's the courts that determine what the law is," he said. "I don't know why the issue of presidents issuing signing statements is controversial at all."

But Specter and his allies maintain that Mr. Bush is doing an end run around the veto process. In his presidency's sixth year, Mr. Bush has yet to issue a single veto that could be overridden with a two-thirds majority in each house.

"The president is not required to (veto)," Boardman said.

"Of course he's not — if he signs the bill," Specter snapped back.

Instead, Mr. Bush has issued hundreds of signing statements invoking his right to interpret or ignore laws on everything from whistleblower protections to how Congress oversees the Patriot Act.

"It means that the administration does not feel bound to enforce many new laws which Congress has passed," said David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues. "This raises profound rule of law concerns. Do we have a functioning code of federal laws?"

Signing statements don't carry the force of law, and other presidents have issued them for administrative reasons, such as instructing an agency how to put a certain law into effect. They usually are inserted quietly into the federal record.

Mr. Bush's signing statement in March on Congress's renewal of the Patriot Act riled Specter and others who labored for months to craft a compromise between Senate and House versions, and what the White House wanted. Reluctantly, the administration relented on its objections to new congressional oversight of the way the FBI searches for terrorists.

Mr. Bush signed the bill with much flag-waving fanfare. Then he issued a signing statement asserting his right to bypass the oversight provisions in certain circumstances.

Specter isn't sure how much Congress can do to check the practice. "We may figure out a way to tie it to the confirmation process or budgetary matters," he said.

jAZ
06-28-2006, 04:19 AM
(Hearing's website)
http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearing.cfm?id=1969

http://judiciary.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?id=1969&wit_id=5482

(snip)

IV. Remedies
I would recommend that Congress enact a generic law that prohibits the expenditure of any funds of the United States to enforce a bill that the President has signed into law but which he has declared in a signing statement that he will refuse to enforce in whole or in part because of its alleged unconstitutionality. That use of the power of the purse would transform such signing statements into the equivalent of a constitutional veto. It would force the President to accept either all of a bill or none, as the Founding Fathers intended.

I would further recommend that Congress enact a statute seeking to confer Article III standing on the House and Senate collectively to sue the President over signing statements that nullify their handiwork, at least in circumstances where there is no other plausible plaintiff who would enjoy standing.

Congress should also pass a resolution deploring signing statements as line item vetoes and urging the President to negotiate with congressional leadership a constitutional and politically accountable means for the White House to express its opposition to laws it believes are unconstitutional in whole or in part. One alternative might be a law allowing the Executive to decline to defend the constitutionality of a law challenged in litigation but authorizing Congress to marshal its defense.

If all other avenues have proved unavailing, Congress should contemplate impeachment for signing statements that systematically flout the separation of powers and legislative prerogatives. The epitome of an impeachable offense, as Alexander Hamilton amplified in the Federalist Papers, is a political crime against the Constitution.

jAZ
06-28-2006, 04:21 AM
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/benchconference/2006/06/the_legal_story_youve_probably.html

The Biggest Legal Story You've Probably Missed

One of the most under-reported and misunderstood legal stories of our time is the story of the White House's use of "signing statements" to try to undercut the effect of the legislation the President is triggering into law (but which he doesn't necessarily agree with). The strategy and tactic is particularly disturbing because it comes from an Administration that has made expanded executive-branch power (and concomittantly blatant disrespect for the other two branches of government) a cornerstone of its philosophy of governance.

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will take a quick and hopefully tough look at the practice of "signing statements" which have been used by presidents for hundreds of years but never with quite the level of determination and frequency achieved by the current folks at the White House. "It's a challenge to the plain language of the Constitution," Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) told the Associated Press. "I'm interested to hear from the administration just what research they've done to lead them to the conclusion that they can cherry-pick." I am sure the assembled scholars today won't tell Committee members a lot more than they already know. But not enough regular folks know enough about the signing statements to be justifiably outraged by them.


What occurs is that White House lawyers craft a dense, technical statement, a legal brief, really, that is figuratively attached to the President's signature when he signs legislation into law. The statement then goes into the federal record as the executive branch's official legal position on the legislation in question. The idea is to later use the statement to the advantage of the executive branch as "proof" of the legal "history" of the legislation. Perhaps the most famous recent example of signing statement shenanigans occurred earlier this year, when President Bush attached to anti-torture legislation a statement that some scholars believe arguably nullified the impact of the legislation (and left open torture as an option).

So even as the President is signing the legislation into law he is manipulating the effect of the legislation in a way that Congress neither intended nor voted for. How's that for respect for co-equal branch of government? ltimately, the federal courts have the last word on the legal impact of legislation. But the recent, pervasive use of signing statements as offensive political strategy is another dangerous example of a trend that seeks to increase the power of one branch at the expense of the other two. This is a big deal. And a big story. And you should pay attention to it. I will follow up later today or tomorrow with a recap of the hearing.

jAZ
06-28-2006, 04:27 AM
This explains why Bush is the first modern president to not have ever vetoed any legilation. He just ignores the parts he doesn't like by abusing signing statements a record 750+ times.

Ultra Peanut
06-28-2006, 04:54 AM
Who needs a legislative branch?

Baby Lee
06-28-2006, 05:37 AM
Already covered.

http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/showthread.php?t=142855
The president is entitled to express his opinion. It's the courts that determine what the law is.

Signing statements don't carry the force of law


Guess that ends that.
I swear, this might be the strongest case of getting your panties in a bunch about nothing, to date.

redbrian
06-28-2006, 07:00 AM
I must admit I only scanned your clip and paste posts, I did read what the Star had to report on the issue this morning and quite frankly I fail to see where you have derived your heading that this is “unconstitutional” and an “impeachable” offense.

The practice has been carried out since I believe Madison started it, is it only an offense because of the quantity, that begs the question what number would be allowable in your land of bizzaro world?

Mr. Kotter
06-28-2006, 07:27 AM
...I swear, this might be the strongest case of getting your panties in a bunch about nothing, to date.
Eh, THAT would be quite a competition and list....

jAZ
06-28-2006, 07:57 AM
Signing statements don't carry the force of law
That's a fairly dishonest assessment of the situation. We aren't talking about some random member of the house or senate penning an op-ed piece.

We are talking about the Executive Branch of the United States government issuing a formal statement and then ACTING UPON THAT STATEMENT within his purview as Chief Executive who's constitutional duty is to ENFORCE THE LAWS OF THE LAND.

He's circumventing the Constitution by ACTING upon signing statements as if it were a line-item-veto (which it is not).

Mr. Kotter
06-28-2006, 08:00 AM
That's a fairly dishonest assessment of the situation. We aren't talking about some random member of the house or senate penning an op-ed piece.

We are talking about the Executive Branch of the United States government issuing a formal statement and then ACTING UPON THAT STATEMENT within his perview as Chief Executive who's constitutional duty is to ENFORCE THE LAWS OF THE LAND.

He's circumventing the Constitution by ACTING upon signing statements as if it were a line-item-veto (which it is not).
More tinfoil for your hat, Justin?

jAZ
06-28-2006, 08:05 AM
More tinfoil for your hat, Justin?
I'll stand alongside the Republican controlled Senate Judiciary Committee on this one. Let me know how effective your instults are.

Donger
06-28-2006, 08:08 AM
Bush's Signing Statements "unconstitutional" and "impeachable offense"...

Just so we're clear, the words above that you put quotation marks around are your opinions, right?

Donger
06-28-2006, 08:10 AM
I'll stand alongside the Republican controlled Senate Judiciary Committee on this one. Let me know how effective your instults are.

Are you referring to this?

"If all other avenues have proved unavailing, Congress should contemplate impeachment for signing statements that systematically flout the separation of powers and legislative prerogatives. The epitome of an impeachable offense, as Alexander Hamilton amplified in the Federalist Papers, is a political crime against the Constitution."

banyon
06-28-2006, 08:17 AM
Bush shouldn't be impeached for the signing statements. He should be impeached if/when he commits acts based on those statements that contravene established law (e.g., torture). Unfortunately with the lapdog Congress in place we can never determine whether any of this is actually going on.

FAX
06-28-2006, 08:18 AM
Constitutional separation of powers conflicts are very, very healthy for the US. If nothing else, W is doing us a favor in this respect.

FAX

Baby Lee
06-28-2006, 08:21 AM
That's a fairly dishonest assessment of the situation. We aren't talking about some random member of the house or senate penning an op-ed piece.

We are talking about the Executive Branch of the United States government issuing a formal statement and then ACTING UPON THAT STATEMENT within his purview as Chief Executive who's constitutional duty is to ENFORCE THE LAWS OF THE LAND.

He's circumventing the Constitution by ACTING upon signing statements as if it were a line-item-veto (which it is not).
banyon has it right.
ACTING on his reading of the legislation in relation to the fabric of the rest of the government, and authoring a signing statement are two different things, each standing on their own.
There are meticulous efforts in every branch of the government to document the thoughts of the decision makers, from legislative history to settled rules of statutory construction in the legislative branch to briefs, amicus briefs, and recorded oral arguments in the judiciary.
AT THE VERY WORST, President Bush has given us the benefit of making clear where he's coming from when signing. There is no authority mandating that the contents of a signing statement be given any deference in interpretation or execution of the bill. What you term 'unconstitutional' and 'impeachable,' I see as an improvement on simply signing the bill, and taking steps to enforce the executive's interpretation of the bill behind the scenes and out of sight.

HC_Chief
06-28-2006, 08:31 AM
BUSH TO BE IMPEACHED IN TWO WEEKS

more details to come: http://www.moonbat.fuqtards.leftwing.omg

Chief Henry
06-28-2006, 08:32 AM
Are we in the month of July already ?

patteeu
06-28-2006, 10:12 AM
That's a fairly dishonest assessment of the situation. We aren't talking about some random member of the house or senate penning an op-ed piece.

We are talking about the Executive Branch of the United States government issuing a formal statement and then ACTING UPON THAT STATEMENT within his purview as Chief Executive who's constitutional duty is to ENFORCE THE LAWS OF THE LAND.

He's circumventing the Constitution by ACTING upon signing statements as if it were a line-item-veto (which it is not).

The President has sworn to uphold the Constitution not the Congressional interpretation of the Constitution. If Congress passes a law that (a) makes it illegal to file a tax return in green ink and (b) makes violators ineligible for a Presidential pardon, would you have a problem with the President signing the law and stating that the portion that attempts to restrict his authority to pardon is unconstitutional and that he doesn't consider himself to be bound by it? That's what these signing statements are.

I think it would be a good idea for Congress to create a situation in which actions pursuant to some of these signing statements could be challenged in the judicial branch, but I don't think such actions shold be thought of as clear grounds for impeachment. Afterall, we don't kick legislators out of Congress for passing laws that don't pass Constitutional muster, we just strike the laws down and go back to the drawing board.

Baby Lee
06-28-2006, 10:28 AM
The President has sworn to uphold the Constitution not the Congressional interpretation of the Constitution. If Congress passes a law that (a) makes it illegal to file a tax return in green ink and (b) makes violators ineligible for a Presidential pardon, would you have a problem with the President signing the law and stating that "San Dimas High School Football RULES?" That's what these signing statements are.
Edit to magnify the point. ;)

patteeu
06-28-2006, 11:01 AM
Edit to magnify the point. ;)

ROFL

go bowe
06-28-2006, 11:03 AM
The President has sworn to uphold the Constitution not the Congressional interpretation of the Constitution. If Congress passes a law that (a) makes it illegal to file a tax return in green ink and (b) makes violators ineligible for a Presidential pardon, would you have a problem with the President signing the law and stating that the portion that attempts to restrict his authority to pardon is unconstitutional and that he doesn't consider himself to be bound by it? That's what these signing statements are.

I think it would be a good idea for Congress to create a situation in which actions pursuant to some of these signing statements could be challenged in the judicial branch, but I don't think such actions shold be thought of as clear grounds for impeachment. Afterall, we don't kick legislators out of Congress for passing laws that don't pass Constitutional muster, we just strike the laws down and go back to the drawing board.first, let me say that i don't find any of this to be a legitimate basis for impeachment...

now, if the president refused to abide by congressional legislation and the supremes hold it unconstitutional, and then the president continues his practice of line item vetos in the form of these signing statements...

turning to the signing statements, to the extent that they appear to be line-item vetos rather than mere formalities, and to the extent that the president disregards legislation duly passed by congress, then i think that dismissing the signing statements as not having the force of law disregards the reality of what the president is doing...

i don't agree that the president, any president, has the right to just disregard provisions of the law that they find inconvenient or politically distasteful...

you'd think with republican control of both houses, the president could get legislation acceptable to him and that he wouldn't have to line item veto with a signing statement...

patteeu
06-28-2006, 11:21 AM
first, let me say that i don't find any of this to be a legitimate basis for impeachment...

now, if the president refused to abide by congressional legislation and the supremes hold it unconstitutional, and then the president continues his practice of line item vetos in the form of these signing statements...

turning to the signing statements, to the extent that they appear to be line-item vetos rather than mere formalities, and to the extent that the president disregards legislation duly passed by congress, then i think that dismissing the signing statements as not having the force of law disregards the reality of what the president is doing...

i don't agree that the president, any president, has the right to just disregard provisions of the law that they find inconvenient or politically distasteful...

you'd think with republican control of both houses, the president could get legislation acceptable to him and that he wouldn't have to line item veto with a signing statement...

I think the President's signing statements and any actions he takes in accordance with those statements are the first step in a separation of powers argument. If that debate is engaged and if, for example, the judiciary sides with the Congress, then I think the President needs to back down or I wouldn't blame Congress for pulling out the trump card of impeachment. On the other hand, if the President wins that argument, then all he's really done is defend the Constitution from a Congress that's attempting to exceed it's authority. Personally, I think Congress has been wildly exceeding their authority for the better part of a century, but practically speaking we probably need to give the SCOTUS' opinion, should they eventually be called upon to give it, considerable weight.

If the President is rejecting portions of legislation that are constitutionally valid then I'd agree with your analysis that he's effectively exceeding his power by "creating" his own version of a line item veto. If, on the other hand, the President's argument that the Congress is exceeding it's authority prevails then there is nothing wrong with what he is doing in defense of the Constitution.

Duck Dog
06-28-2006, 03:19 PM
Originally Posted by jAZ
BUSH TO BE IMPEACHED IN TWO WEEKS

more details to come: http://www.moonbat.fuqtards.leftwing.omg




LOL
ROFL

Donger
06-28-2006, 03:26 PM
I'll stand alongside the Republican controlled Senate Judiciary Committee on this one. Let me know how effective your instults are.

I'm still trying to figure out the above. Is jAZ suggesting that the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said that these actions are "unconstitutional" and "impeachable offenses."?

BucEyedPea
06-28-2006, 03:56 PM
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." - George W. Bush


Bush: [Constitution] "just a goddamn piece of paper"

jAZ
06-28-2006, 10:35 PM
I'm still trying to figure out the above. Is jAZ suggesting that the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said that these actions are "unconstitutional" and "impeachable offenses."?
No, with this post, I'm saying that Kotter's flippant dismissal of the topic as "tinfoil hat" material is assinine as demonstrated by the bi-partisan Senate Judiciary Committee feeling it well more than worthy of official hearings.

The comments you referenced are from testimony soliticited and opinions expressed at that hearing. Not from any members of the Senate.

WoodDraw
06-28-2006, 10:35 PM
Here's an interesting blog post on the subject by the always interesting Orin Kerr:

http://www.orinkerr.com/2006/06/27/article-ii-and-the-notice-question/


The signing statements can't be written off as the President simply expressing his point of view as some here have claimed. For one, Bush's own statements clearly go beyond mere opinions; instead, they are open declarations of the executive branch's intent to ignore sections they disagree with. Which leads to the next problem - the constitution provides no legal basis for this. The President can sign or veto a law, but there is no mention of a unilateral amendment to laws by the executive branch. And if the constitution doesn't provide a legal basis, it becomes hard to flesh out the whole process. What role do the signing statements play? No one really knows. Bush seems to be adding another step to the law making process without telling anyone what it really means.

Donger
06-28-2006, 10:37 PM
No, with this post, I'm saying that Kotter's flippant dismissal of the topic as "tinfoil hat" material is assinine as demonstrated by the bi-partisan Senate Judiciary Committee feeling it well more than worthy of official hearings.

The comments you referenced are from testimony soliticited and opinions expressed at that hearing. Not from any members of the Senate.

Thank you.