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View Full Version : U.S. Issues Is the increase of presidential signing statements of importance to you?


Jenson71
10-21-2008, 02:42 PM
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 24, 2006 – Presidential signing statements that assert President Bush’s authority to disregard or decline to enforce laws adopted by Congress undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers, according to a report released today by a blue-ribbon American Bar Association task force.

To address these concerns, the task force urges Congress to adopt legislation enabling its members to seek court review of signing statements that assert the President’s right to ignore or not enforce laws passed by Congress, and urges the President to veto bills he feels are not constitutional.

The Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements and the Separation of Powers Doctrine was created by ABA President Michael S. Greco with the approval of the ABA Board of Governors in June, to examine the changing role of presidential signing statements after the Boston Globe on April 30 revealed an exclusive reliance on presidential signing statements, in lieu of vetoes, by the Bush Administration.

http://www.abanet.org/media/releases/news072406.html

alnorth
10-21-2008, 05:25 PM
No. The president has the right to refuse to enforce laws which he believes are unconstitutional until a court tells him he is wrong. The fact he may have signed the law is completely irrelevant. The argument that he should go to court first and get them to agree the law is unconstitutional before ignoring it is also nonsense, the judicial system simply doesn't work that way.

If the president is wrong in a particular issue, it is, and always has been, up to the injured party to sue the feds to force him to enforce the law. It works for ordinary people too, if you believe a law is unconstitutional you may break it at your peril. If you are right, no harm no foul, but if you are wrong, you face the consequences. In this case there are no consequences, more of an "oops, I guess I was wrong. OK, we'll start enforcing this law then", but thats still how it works.

jidar
10-21-2008, 05:28 PM
Oh god yes it's important. It clearly is not in the spirit of the way this countries government was designed.

jidar
10-21-2008, 05:30 PM
No. The president has the right to refuse to enforce laws which he believes are unconstitutional until a court tells him he is wrong. The fact he may have signed the law is completely irrelevant. The argument that he should go to court first and get them to agree the law is unconstitutional before ignoring it is also nonsense, the judicial system simply doesn't work that way.

If the president is wrong in a particular issue, it is, and always has been, up to the injured party to sue the feds to force him to enforce the law. It works for ordinary people too, if you believe a law is unconstitutional you may break it at your peril. If you are right, no harm no foul, but if you are wrong, you face the consequences. In this case there are no consequences, more of an "oops, I guess I was wrong. OK, we'll start enforcing this law then", but thats still how it works.



He doesn't have to sign it if he doesn't believe it's constitutional. Signing it then adding a statement at the bottom to completely change the meaning and intent of the law is just ridiculous. If the president can do that, then what is the point of congress?

jidar
10-21-2008, 05:59 PM
BTW for people who don't know what this is all about, here is a Pulitzer prize winning article from 2006 concerning presidents Bush blatant abuse of signing statements. It's very long so I wont attempt to repost it here:

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/04/30/bush_challenges_hundreds_of_laws/


Wikipedia has some interesting leads on this as well:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signing_statements

I'll offer my own brief explanation.

When a bill passes through congress it goes to the president to be signed into law. At that point he can either sign it, not sign it (and it passes after 10 days as if he had signed it) or veto it (send it back to congress to be redone).

Signing statements are something a president adds next to his signature when he signs the bill into the law, to clarify his interpretation of that law as he is signing it. In the past presidents have used it when they felt a law was ambiguous in it's meaning, so they would clarify what they believed the law was saying.

Bush on the other hand has been literally changing laws with his signing statements.

For example:

Here is a summary of a law passed on Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Bush's signing statement on that law: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.

So you see, instead of vetoing the law he just changed it without any type of review, debate or consensus.

whoman69
10-21-2008, 06:34 PM
I'm surprised the matter hasn't gone before the Supreme Court. There is no way the balance of power is maintained if the President can just inform Congress that he can rewrite or ignore parts of a law he just signed. Just another example of Bush vastly overstepping his bounds.

Direckshun
10-21-2008, 10:51 PM
I think if you're not alarmed by Bush's absolute abuse of signing statements, you're simply not aware of it.

I'm on board to eliminate signing statements. They are a pure violation of checks and balances and unfairly advantage the President with a personal line item veto that Congress is not allowed to overrule.

It's one of the great shames of the Bush presidency. Signing statements, if they must exist, should be used extremely sparingly. Bush has abused himself of this power over 800 times.

It is downright disturbing and it must be brought to an end.

wazu
10-21-2008, 11:49 PM
Yes, of major importance.

'Hamas' Jenkins
10-22-2008, 12:00 AM
Just another way for the John Yoo-loving UE theorists of the world to circumvent the Constitution.

Taco John
10-22-2008, 12:01 AM
I would like to see charges pressed, and every single one reviewed in a legal court of law.

BucEyedPea
10-22-2008, 06:41 AM
No. The president has the right to refuse to enforce laws which he believes are unconstitutional until a court tells him he is wrong. The fact he may have signed the law is completely irrelevant. The argument that he should go to court first and get them to agree the law is unconstitutional before ignoring it is also nonsense, the judicial system simply doesn't work that way.

If the president is wrong in a particular issue, it is, and always has been, up to the injured party to sue the feds to force him to enforce the law. It works for ordinary people too, if you believe a law is unconstitutional you may break it at your peril. If you are right, no harm no foul, but if you are wrong, you face the consequences. In this case there are no consequences, more of an "oops, I guess I was wrong. OK, we'll start enforcing this law then", but thats still how it works.

This is rubbish. It's like saying the president's pen is the highest law of the land. Signing statements have exploded under Bush using SS to excess of all previous presidents combined. And Bush is not using them to protect presidential powers but to nullify acts of Congress. That's an abuse of power, ruling by decree and a recipe for dictatorship. Further this govt is the first where there have been no dissenting voices in his govt or debate—another characteristic of dictatorship. That's because all the guys in his govt are neoconservatives.

There is NO provision in the Constitution for signing statements even if they haven't been challenged in court.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 07:43 AM
BTW for people who don't know what this is all about, here is a Pulitzer prize winning article from 2006 concerning presidents Bush blatant abuse of signing statements. It's very long so I wont attempt to repost it here:

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/04/30/bush_challenges_hundreds_of_laws/


Wikipedia has some interesting leads on this as well:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signing_statements

I'll offer my own brief explanation.

When a bill passes through congress it goes to the president to be signed into law. At that point he can either sign it, not sign it (and it passes after 10 days as if he had signed it) or veto it (send it back to congress to be redone).

Signing statements are something a president adds next to his signature when he signs the bill into the law, to clarify his interpretation of that law as he is signing it. In the past presidents have used it when they felt a law was ambiguous in it's meaning, so they would clarify what they believed the law was saying.

Bush on the other hand has been literally changing laws with his signing statements.

For example:

Here is a summary of a law passed on Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Bush's signing statement on that law: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.

So you see, instead of vetoing the law he just changed it without any type of review, debate or consensus.

He didn't change the law, he said that Congress doesn't have the authority to interfere with his constitutional powers as CiC. This is no different than clearing up ambiguity which you seem to accept as reasonable. The law is ambiguous about whether it is only operative within the constitutional bounds of the Congress or whether it unconstitutionally attempts to interfere with the inherent powers of the President. He simply cleared up the ambiguity by interpreting the statute in the way that keeps it constitutional from his pov.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 07:45 AM
Just another way for the John Yoo-loving UE theorists of the world to circumvent the Constitution.

John Yoo is a constitutional law professor at a top 10 law school. /cross-thread

KILLER_CLOWN
10-22-2008, 07:45 AM
This is of major importance, we do not elect dictators here.

KILLER_CLOWN
10-22-2008, 07:46 AM
John Yoo is a constitutional law professor at a top 10 law school.

we can thank him for changing the unpatriotic act in the middle of the night, thanks for approving torture Mr. Yoo. :(

patteeu
10-22-2008, 07:50 AM
This is rubbish. It's like saying the president's pen is the highest law of the land. Signing statements have exploded under Bush using SS to excess of all previous presidents combined. And Bush is not using them to protect presidential powers but to nullify acts of Congress. That's an abuse of power, ruling by decree and a recipe for dictatorship. Further this govt is the first where there have been no dissenting voices in his govt or debate—another characteristic of dictatorship. That's because all the guys in his govt are neoconservatives.

There is NO provision in the Constitution for signing statements even if they haven't been challenged in court.

The POTUS is independently responsible for upholding the constitution. He is not obliged to execute unconstitutional directives from Congress. There is no need for him to make signing statements to fulfill this responsibility, but the fact that he does is a service to the nation because it puts everyone on notice about his view of where Congress' authority ends and his authority begins.

There doesn't have to be a provision in the Constitution for signing statements any more than there has to be one for Congress to keep track of their legislative arguments in the Congressional record.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 07:53 AM
Oh, btw, I voted no big deal. And they won't be any big deal if President Obama issues them either. They're just a way of memorializing the President's opinion.

jidar
10-22-2008, 07:58 AM
Oh, btw, I voted no big deal. And they won't be any big deal if President Obama issues them either. They're just a way of memorializing the President's opinion.

So it's no big deal if the president is interpreting laws himself, even if it's clearly against the point of the law?

So what do you do when a president "interprets" the constitution to mean that guns can only be held by military and law enforcement?

Amnorix
10-22-2008, 08:04 AM
He didn't change the law, he said that Congress doesn't have the authority to interfere with his constitutional powers as CiC. This is no different than clearing up ambiguity which you seem to accept as reasonable. The law is ambiguous about whether it is only operative within the constitutional bounds of the Congress or whether it unconstitutionally attempts to interfere with the inherent powers of the President. He simply cleared up the ambiguity by interpreting the statute in the way that keeps it constitutional from his pov.

IMHO that's a joke. Here's the example he gave

Here is a summary of a law passed on Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Bush's signing statement on that law: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.


There is absolutely nothing ambiguous about that. He signed something into law, and then issued a signing statement that said he could break the law, upon his sole determination of a certain set of facts. That's absurd.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 08:08 AM
So it's no big deal if the president is interpreting laws himself, even if it's clearly against the point of the law?

So what do you do when a president "interprets" the constitution to mean that guns can only be held by military and law enforcement?

That's easy. I'll oppose his interpretation. But I won't be confused into thinking that it's the piece of paper he wrote it on that's the problem.

Amnorix
10-22-2008, 08:08 AM
So it's no big deal if the president is interpreting laws himself, even if it's clearly against the point of the law?

So what do you do when a president "interprets" the constitution to mean that guns can only be held by military and law enforcement?

That one is easy, because as soon as the President tries to take someone's gun away, the NRA and ten million gun-owners will sue and the courts will reverse the PResident and establish that he can't do that.

What is MUCH harder is what to do about a President who refuses to enforce the law, or enforces the law selectively based on vague criteria against individuals who may or may not have the ability to find recourse in the courts.

The torture law example given is a fine example fo this. Who is going to sue to establish that his exemption is unauthorized/impermissible? Terrorists, suspected terrorists and those who may be tortured aren't in a good position to challenge the law, and it's not clear who else has standing to challenge it.

jidar
10-22-2008, 08:12 AM
That's easy. I'll oppose his interpretation. But I won't be confused into thinking that it's the piece of paper he wrote it on that's the problem.

so you'll break the law.

So at that point we're talking about a system of law where one man can make and change laws without any type of review or consensus, and the only recourse is to break said law. This is a good idea?

KILLER_CLOWN
10-22-2008, 08:17 AM
so you'll break the law.

So at that point we're talking about a system of law where one man can make and change laws without any type of review or consensus, and the only recourse is to break said law. This is a good idea?

Nope, our founding fathers we be up in arms over such atrocities.

jidar
10-22-2008, 08:22 AM
Nope, our founding fathers we be up in arms over such atrocities.

It's precisely what they were trying to avoid.

Everybody likes to talk about what the founding fathers would or would not have said, and we can never know, but this is one of those times where I'm all but certain they would not have liked the idea of signing statements. It's clearly a loophole in the system, and one I'm sure they would close if they had known about it.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 08:23 AM
IMHO that's a joke. Here's the example he gave



There is absolutely nothing ambiguous about that. He signed something into law, and then issued a signing statement that said he could break the law, upon his sole determination of a certain set of facts. That's absurd.

It's ambiguous if you accept the constitutional view that the power of Congress to control the president is different depending on whether he is acting in his general role or if he is acting as CiC during wartime. If you don't accept that constitutional view then your argument with the president is on that point not on whether or not signing statements are valid.

Let me use a different example (with a less controversial constitutional issue at stake) to illustrate. If Congress passed a law that said that no federal prisoner could be released from prison for any reason until they had served their full sentence, does it mean that Congress is trying to prevent the President from exercising his constitutional power to pardon until after the convict has served out his term? The law itself is ambiguous. If the president signs the law but points out by way of a signing statement that he interprets the law in a way that makes it applicable only up to the point where he decides to exercise his power to pardon, he clears up the ambiguity.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 08:30 AM
so you'll break the law.

So at that point we're talking about a system of law where one man can make and change laws without any type of review or consensus, and the only recourse is to break said law. This is a good idea?

What are you talking about? I didn't say anything about breaking the law. I said I'd oppose it. Opposition can take many forms from speaking out on a message board to marching in protest to voting for or otherwise supporting the opposition all the way up to breaking the law in order to challenge it in court (or, I suppose, taking up arms against the government). More than likely I'd be operating mainly at the "posting on a message board" end of that spectrum.

BucEyedPea
10-22-2008, 08:34 AM
It's ambiguous if you accept the constitutional view that the power of Congress to control the president is different depending on whether he is acting in his general role or if he is acting as CiC during wartime. If you don't accept that constitutional view then your argument with the president is on that point not on whether or not signing statements are valid.
We aren't at war technically. Even if we were he'd be in charge of the military and execution of the war...only because Congress declared it. That wouldn't give him carte blanche indiscriminately anywhere and everywhere. Bush hasn't been using ss's for cic duties either. There's what? Over 800 or some such.

I don't see how your example applies as those are two different things.

jidar
10-22-2008, 08:37 AM
It's ambiguous if you accept the constitutional view that the power of Congress to control the president is different depending on whether he is acting in his general role or if he is acting as CiC during wartime. If you don't accept that constitutional view then your argument with the president is on that point not on whether or not signing statements are valid.

Let me use a different example (with a less controversial constitutional issue at stake) to illustrate. If Congress passed a law that said that no federal prisoner could be released from prison for any reason until they had served their full sentence, does it mean that Congress is trying to prevent the President from exercising his constitutional power to pardon until after the convict has served out his term? The law itself is ambiguous. If the president signs the law but points out by way of a signing statement that he interprets the law in a way that makes it applicable only up to the point where he decides to exercise his power to pardon, he clears up the ambiguity.


You can list valid uses of the signing statements all day, no one disputes that. The question is can it be abused to upset the power of government, and clearly and it can and has been used that way by Bush.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 08:37 AM
We aren't at war technically. Even if we were he'd be in charge of the military and execution of the war...only because Congress declared it. That wouldn't give him carte blanche indiscriminately anywhere and everywhere. Bush hasn't been using ss's for cic duties either. There's what? Over 800 or some such.

I don't see how your example applies as those are two different things.

Again, your issue isn't with signing statements, it's with your difference of opinion over what the constitution means.

My examples are two different illustrations of the same thing. In both cases, the POTUS is pointing out that the statute in question is ambiguous in it's scope and that at least one interpretation of that scope could be unconstitutional as he sees it.

BucEyedPea
10-22-2008, 08:40 AM
Again, your issue isn't with signing statements, it's with your difference of opinion over what the constitution means.
Makes no difference. There is no place for them in the constitution which is clearly a document of "specific and enumerated" powers.

My examples are two different illustrations of the same thing. In both cases, the POTUS is pointing out that the statute in question is ambiguous in it's scope and that at least one interpretation of that scope could be unconstitutional as he sees it.
He is not doing that with them though. He doesn't interpret, he executes. The SC interprets.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 08:41 AM
You can list valid uses of the signing statements all day, no one disputes that. The question is can it be abused to upset the power of government, and clearly and it can and has been used that way by Bush.

Try to separate your disagreement on the underlying constitutional issues from your paranoia about signing statements. Signing statements have no impact other than to publicize the President's thinking on the subject. If he issued no signing statements it wouldn't have any impact on the way he interprets the law. At least with a signing statement, folks who disagree with his interpretation are put on notice.

BucEyedPea
10-22-2008, 08:43 AM
Try to separate your disagreement on the underlying constitutional issues from your paranoia about signing statements. Signing statements have no impact other than to publicize the President's thinking on the subject. If he issued no signing statements it wouldn't have any impact on the way he interprets the law. At least with a signing statement, folks who disagree with his interpretation are put on notice.

It means the president is above the law by refusing to execute them. Let him execute them. Then they can be challenged in the SC.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 08:47 AM
Makes no difference. There is no place for them in the constitution which is clearly a document of "specific and enumerated" powers.

There is no reason for the Constitution to specifically authorize his use of signing statements because it's not an exercise of power. The POTUS has the same freedom of speech that the rest of us do whether he exercises it in the form of a written signing statement or a verbal comment to the press as he's walking out of the room. The constitution doesn't authorize him to make verbal comments at a signing ceremony either, do you object to those too?


He is not doing that with them though. He doesn't interpret, he executes. The SC interprets.

Wrong. Every branch must interpret the Constitution in order to fulfill their pledge to uphold it.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 08:48 AM
It means the president is above the law by refusing to execute them. Let him execute them. Then they can be challenged in the SC.

They're ambiguous. You can't execute something until you interpret it.

BucEyedPea
10-22-2008, 08:50 AM
They're ambiguous. You can't execute something until you interpret it.

No they are not all ambiguous. I had a businessman try to use that to get out of a contract, many do, but it doesn't mean they always are right about that.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 08:54 AM
No they are not all ambiguous. I had a businessman try to use that to get out of a contract, many do, but it doesn't mean they always are right about that.

A person who is so committed to a specific belief about something that her mind has closed will always have trouble seeing the ambiguity.

BucEyedPea
10-22-2008, 08:54 AM
There is no reason for the Constitution to specifically authorize his use of signing statements because it's not an exercise of power.
It's an abuse of power as he refuses to execute those laws. So you're wrong. You're spinning by calling it something else.

The POTUS has the same freedom of speech that the rest of us do whether he exercises it in the form of a written signing statement or a verbal comment to the press as he's walking out of the room.
Yes he does, but it he is not just speaking when doing a ss. He is refusing to execute certain laws as if he is above it.

The constitution doesn't authorize him to make verbal comments at a signing ceremony either, do you object to those too?
Not the same category of thing, and as such is a point of illogic.


Wrong. Every branch must interpret the Constitution in order to fulfill their pledge to uphold it.
Bush is refusing to uphold altogether. It's one thing to misapply, it's another to refuse to execute. And this is where much Constitution mischief is done.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 08:56 AM
It's an abuse of power as he refuses to execute those laws. So you're wrong. You're spinning by calling it something else.


Yes he does, but it he is not just speaking when doing a ss. He is refusing to execute certain laws as if he is above it.


Not the same category of thing, and as such is a point of illogic.



Bush is refusing to uphold altogether. It's one thing to misapply, it's another to refuse to execute. And this is where much Constitution mischief is done.

Completely unconvincing.

BucEyedPea
10-22-2008, 08:59 AM
A person who is so committed to a specific belief about something that her mind has closed will always have trouble seeing the ambiguity.

Your evaluation is incorrect and is ad hominem as it doesn't prove your points.
How 'bout I tell you that you believe in a living Constitution and are a liberal?
I thought you were a Conservative? You're being a partisan here.

I am committed to what the document says, and that it was written primarily as a restraint on Federal power being filled with checks and balances. That's not a "belief." It's an extra-Constitutional act as Bush has used them to go beyond protecting the traditional powers of the executive. A detail you ignore. Just read it as well as the notes at the original ConCon. Presidential branch was intended to be weak with legislative supremacy which includes the "people's house."

BucEyedPea
10-22-2008, 08:59 AM
Completely unconvincing.
To you.

whoman69
10-22-2008, 09:05 AM
Oh, btw, I voted no big deal. And they won't be any big deal if President Obama issues them either. They're just a way of memorializing the President's opinion.

They are more than that. It is the job of the president to uphold the constitution, not his job to determine what is constitutional. That is the job of the supreme court. Its the President with a free reign to rewrite law, which is the job of the legislature. You can't tell me that Bush stating that he will still conduct torture even though congress outlawed it because Bush thinks torture is constitutional is him upholding the constitution.

BucEyedPea
10-22-2008, 09:07 AM
You can't tell me that Bush stating that he will still conduct torture even though congress outlawed it because Bush thinks torture is constitutional is him upholding the constitution.

That's ambiguous though.

BucEyedPea
10-22-2008, 09:08 AM
Pat, you need to stop reading the National Review and/or Jonah Goldberg.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 09:13 AM
They are more than that. It is the job of the president to uphold the constitution, not his job to determine what is constitutional. That is the job of the supreme court. Its the President with a free reign to rewrite law, which is the job of the legislature. You can't tell me that Bush stating that he will still conduct torture even though congress outlawed it because Bush thinks torture is constitutional is him upholding the constitution.

As I mentioned before, you can't uphold something until after you interpret it. You also can't execute a statute until you interpret it. There's a whole lot of interpretation required here and the signing statement does nothing but memorialize it. There's no re-writing going on here.

What makes me laugh about some of the people who are wetting their pants over this is that they don't seem to be bothered at all by Congress when they pass a law that's unconstitutional.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 09:16 AM
Pat, you need to stop reading the National Review and/or Jonah Goldberg.

Do they agree with me?

BucEyedPea
10-22-2008, 09:48 AM
Do they agree with me?

I'm assuming they do due to it's leanings.

Here's Barr ( a lawyer and conservative) on ss:

I asked Bob about his view on presidential signing statements. He let us know that they would be used very sparingly in a Barr administration, and that they are not a constitutionally valid vehicle for a president to ignore legislation passed by Congress. If the bill is that bad, you need to just veto it.
http://themoderatevoice.com/politics/bob-barr/21592/bob-barr-conference-call-august-6-2008/

whoman69
10-22-2008, 11:42 AM
As I mentioned before, you can't uphold something until after you interpret it. You also can't execute a statute until you interpret it. There's a whole lot of interpretation required here and the signing statement does nothing but memorialize it. There's no re-writing going on here.

What makes me laugh about some of the people who are wetting their pants over this is that they don't seem to be bothered at all by Congress when they pass a law that's unconstitutional.

If Congress passes a law which is unconstitutional the President can still veto and the Supreme Court can still say its unconstitutional. For the President to do more than that is an abuse of power.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 11:47 AM
If Congress passes a law which is unconstitutional the President can still veto and the Supreme Court can still say its unconstitutional. For the President to do more than that is an abuse of power.

That's not what's going on here. These laws might or might not be unconstitutional (from the President's pov) depending on how they're interpreted. He's just making it clear that he's assuming they were intended to be constitutional and he's letting that assumption inform his interpretation of the law.

Amnorix
10-22-2008, 11:50 AM
Try to separate your disagreement on the underlying constitutional issues from your paranoia about signing statements. Signing statements have no impact other than to publicize the President's thinking on the subject. If he issued no signing statements it wouldn't have any impact on the way he interprets the law. At least with a signing statement, folks who disagree with his interpretation are put on notice.

It's also a very clear signal to the executive branch that he oversees how to interpret the law, in implementing it, and in framing regulations around it.

In fact, there's a decent argument that the SS is more important than the law itself, because the executive departments all report up the chain to the President, and are answerable to him.

It also, IMHO sets a very bad precedent for all this idiocy. How can he have 800 exceptions,changes, clarifications, etc. What he should be doing is working with Congress to pass better laws, if they are that freaking bad. And that was with a Republican Congress for 6 out of the 8 years of his abortion of a Presidency.

Amnorix
10-22-2008, 11:52 AM
They're ambiguous. You can't execute something until you interpret it.

That's pretty much completely incorrect. Heck, often the ambiguity isn't even recognized until after it's executed and you're trying to implement it.

Also, as stated elsewhere, if he has problesm with the laws, he needs to work with Congress to clarify the wording. Instead, according to our national leaders, we have 800 laws that have defects in them so serious the PResident needed to "clarify" them.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 12:06 PM
That's pretty much completely incorrect. Heck, often the ambiguity isn't even recognized until after it's executed and you're trying to implement it.

You can't execute before you interpret. Period. That's not to say that additional ambiguities won't come to your attention as you get to the point where it's time to execute in those areas, but again you have to interpret before you can execute.

BTW, why do you think so many lawyers work for the executive branch of government? Sure, some are drafting regulations and some are prosecuting criminals, but a lot of them are interpreting statutes and the constitution for their principals so that the government can execute those statutes properly.

Also, as stated elsewhere, if he has problesm with the laws, he needs to work with Congress to clarify the wording. Instead, according to our national leaders, we have 800 laws that have defects in them so serious the PResident needed to "clarify" them.

Encouraging Congress to pass better laws is always desirable. In the end though, you get what they give you. At that point you have to interpret it before you can execute it.

Have you ever paid a contractor to build a house or do a major remodel for you? If you have, you've probably encountered situations where the contractor did something in a way that differs from what you expected even if you thought you did a pretty good job of describing what you wanted. At some level there's almost always some ambiguity and the contractor isn't likely to check with you about every choice he has to make (although you'd hope he'd do so on the big stuff).

Jenson71
10-22-2008, 04:10 PM
patteeu,


Encouraging Congress to pass better laws is always desirable. In the end though, you get what they give you. At that point you have to interpret it before you can execute it.

Shouldn't the executive interpret it before they sign it into law then? And deeming whether part of the bill is constitutional or unconstitutional, sign it or veto it? Otherwise, what is the difference between this and a line item veto, other than the fact that one has been ruled unconstitutional?

In both cases, the executive is disagreeing with a certain clause of a bill and still signing the entire bill into law.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 04:28 PM
patteeu,



Shouldn't the executive interpret it before they sign it into law then? And deeming whether part of the bill is constitutional or unconstitutional, sign it or veto it? Otherwise, what is the difference between this and a line item veto, other than the fact that one has been ruled unconstitutional?

In both cases, the executive is disagreeing with a certain clause of a bill and still signing the entire bill into law.

That's not what's happening though. I'm not an expert on every signing statement that the president has put out but so far I haven't heard of any that would be properly described as the equivalent of a line item veto. If you want to discuss a specific example we could. I described a hypothetical earlier in the thread:

If Congress passed a law that said that no federal prisoner could be released from prison for any reason until they had served their full sentence, does it mean that Congress is trying to prevent the President from exercising his constitutional power to pardon until after the convict has served out his term? The law itself is ambiguous. If the president signs the law but points out by way of a signing statement that he interprets the law in a way that makes it applicable only up to the point where he decides to exercise his power to pardon, he clears up the ambiguity.

This isn't the use of a line item veto. It's an interpretation of a statute that reflects the underlying constitutional constraints on Congressional power.

Now if you happen to be completely convinced that Congress does have the authority to limit the President's ability to pardon, and if you're equally convinced that Congress intended to limit the President's ability to pardon with this statute, you might mistake it for a line item veto, but that's a reflection of your own unwillingness to consider the possibility that your interpretation of the constitution is wrong.

Jenson71
10-22-2008, 04:46 PM
A second bill to demonstrate how the administration varies its objections to a particular bill, no matter how innocuous the bill may be, can be found in the signing statement that accompanied the “Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act.”95 In that Act, President Bush made ten separate objections that covered appointment violations, interference with his right to supervise the executive branch, and provisions that ran afoul of his political opposition to affirmative action programs.

For example, on the interference with his ability to make appointments, President Bush objected to Section 106(p) (7) (B) (iii) of the Act because it “…purports to limit the qualifications of the pool of persons from whom the President may select ATSC (Air Traffic Services Subcommittee) members in a manner that rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge to fill the office. Congressional participation in such appointments is limited by the Appointments Clause of the Constitution …[and he shall] construe the provisions…as is consistent with the Appointments Clause.”96

In another section of the law, President Bush seeks to make sure that two specific executive branch agencies award scholarships based on merit and nothing more: “The executive branch shall implement sections 702 and 703 of the Act, which relate to the award of certain government scholarships, in a manner consistent with the equal protection requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.”97

Section 702 directed the FAA administrator to create a “Federal Aviation Administration Science and Technology Scholarship Program” in order to “recruit and prepare students for careers in the FAA,”98while Section 703 directed the Administrator of NASA to “establish a National Aeronautics and Space Administration Science and Technology Scholarship Program” to “recruit and prepare students for careers in NASA.”99

In the Committee Reports100 for both sections referred to in Bush’s signing statement, part of the criteria in awarding the scholarships was not just academic merit, but also for “financial need and the goal of promoting the participation of individuals identified in section 33 or 34 of the Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act.”101 Title 42 U.S.C 1885 (a) & (b) require federal agencies that deal with the sciences to do more to bring about more women and minorities in science, engineering, and technology and it is this provision in which President Bush orders the FAA and NASA to award the scholarships based on merit only, despite what existing law says to the contrary.

93 Public Law No. 108-447.
94 Bush, George W. “Statement on Signing the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005.” Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. December 8, 2004. pg. 2924.
95 Public Law 108-176. December 12, 2003.
96 Bush, George W. “Statement on Signing the Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act.” Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Monday, December 22, 2003. pg. 1796.
97 Ibid. pg. 1796.
98 Public Law 108-176, Title VII, Section 702.
99 Ibid. Section 703.
100 House Report 108-334. “Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act;” House Report 108-240. “Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act.”
101 House Report 108-334, Section 703 (a)(2); House Report 108-240, Section 702 (a)(2).

http://www.cageprisoners.com/downloads/kelleypaper.pdf

Jenson71
10-22-2008, 04:51 PM
My understanding is that these signing statements aren't just theoretical statements of the president's opinion. They have been orders to bureaucrats within the executive that affect the execution of policies.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 07:50 PM
My understanding is that these signing statements aren't just theoretical statements of the president's opinion. They have been orders to bureaucrats within the executive that affect the execution of policies.

The signing statements have no inherent legal effect. They may well have the same practical impact as if the President were to direct his underlings to behave in a certain way verbally or by memo though. As such, of course they affect the execution of policies.

Leaving aside the issue of whether or not this is a line item veto for a minute, let's try another hypothetical to investigate this idea that the President should not be able to interpret the constitution for himself. Let's say that the Congress, for whatever inconceivable reason, passes a statute that purports to require the President round up every SUV driver and put them to death without any due process whatsoever. The President vetoes this idiotic and anti-constitutional law but the Congress overrides this veto. Should the President be required to commence the execution of these clearly unconstitutional orders until a court sees fit to rule on the law or would we want him to uphold the constitution and refuse to comply? What if the court upholds the law, should the President shrug his shoulders and order the executions?

Now, what if that clause is just one part of a massive, multifaceted global warming law that is otherwise unobjectionable. Should the President enforce the entire law, enforce everything but the unconstitutional part, or refuse to enforce any part?

clemensol
10-22-2008, 08:14 PM
I don't have a problem with signing statements themselves. I do have a problem when certain presidents give interpretations of the law so absurd that it essentially amounts to them ignoring the law and certain judicial figures refuse to do anything about it. The problem is not that the president makes his absurd interpretation public, it is that, at times, the judges refuse to shoot down the absurd interpretation.

I also have a major problem with calling the war on terror an official war giving the president war time powers. We will always have some terrorists so I don't see how the war on terror will ever end. Accepting the war on terror as an official war basically gives the president war time powers permanently.

Mr. Laz
10-22-2008, 08:16 PM
I would like to see charges pressed, and every single one reviewed in a legal court of law.
what he said x2

Jenson71
10-22-2008, 08:31 PM
The signing statements have no inherent legal effect. They may well have the same practical impact as if the President were to direct his underlings to behave in a certain way verbally or by memo though. As such, of course they affect the execution of policies.

And affect in a way contrary to written and declared legislative intention.

Leaving aside the issue of whether or not this is a line item veto for a minute, let's try another hypothetical to investigate this idea that the President should not be able to interpret the constitution for himself. Let's say that the Congress, for whatever inconceivable reason, passes a statute that purports to require the President round up every SUV driver and put them to death without any due process whatsoever. The President vetoes this idiotic and anti-constitutional law but the Congress overrides this veto. Should the President be required to commence the execution of these clearly unconstitutional orders until a court sees fit to rule on the law or would we want him to uphold the constitution and refuse to comply? What if the court upholds the law, should the President shrug his shoulders and order the executions?

I think the President can interpret the Constitution, in as much as you and I can interpret the Constitution. The difference of course, is that neither interpretations are legally binding, though they may be implemented due to constraints in the court system.

I will admit that I believe in the basic tenents of Judicial Supremacy pretty strongly, believing that it ultimately prevents such situations as you have given.

In such a hypothetical as yours, my first thought is if there has ever been a situation that came even close to this. My first reaction is I don't know what the best actions would be. Perhaps revolution as it clearly disintegrates nearly the entire Preamble.

patteeu
10-22-2008, 11:55 PM
I don't have a problem with signing statements themselves. I do have a problem when certain presidents give interpretations of the law so absurd that it essentially amounts to them ignoring the law and certain judicial figures refuse to do anything about it. The problem is not that the president makes his absurd interpretation public, it is that, at times, the judges refuse to shoot down the absurd interpretation.

This seems like a reasonable position to me.