Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
Veto, sign or do nothing Mr. President
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Have to go with Specter here:
A Republican who has led the fight against President Bush’s signing statements said Monday that he would soon have a bill ready allowing Congress to sue the president.

“We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will … authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president’s acts declared unconstitutional,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said on the Senate floor.

Specter’s announcement came the same day that an American Bar Association task force concluded that by attaching conditions to legislation, the president has sidestepped his constitutional duty to sign a bill, veto it or take no action.

Bush has issued at least 750 signing statements during his presidency, reserving the right to revise, interpret or disregard laws on national security and constitutional grounds.
This is one of the reasons we've seen 1 veto in 6 years as well as the fact that marginal or bad law makes it through the signing process. I want a decision made by the President, not a set of conditions cobbled together which he feels give him the right to ignore or revise (or interpret - that's the court's job) laws on "national security" or "constitutional" grounds.

Not. His. Job.

Once more a reminder from James Madison: "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Absolutely right, McQ. The last thing we need is an extra-constitutional device to skew the separation of powers. Presidential signing statements should cease immediately. If the president truly has questions about the constitutionality of legislation, he should veto the billl or sign it and facilitate review by the Supreme Court at the earliest opportunity. He should not sign the bill with his fingers crossed behind his back.

 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
"We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will . authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president’s acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said on the Senate floor.
I predict we’ll be seeing Bush’s second veto pretty soon.

I agree that Bush should generally have either vetoed or signed the laws. He shouldn’t have issued signing statements. The reason he has been using statements so much is because he has been afraid to exercise the veto. So yes he’s a dumbass.

On the other hand, the job of President is chief executive office of the US. He is in charge of "faithfully" executing our laws. The idea that this doesn’t require a certain level of interpretation is foolishness. Of course it does. Most laws have a fair bit of wiggle room and interpretation in their language. If his signing statements are generally of the form "this is how I intend to execute this law" then I have no problem with them. He’s actually doing us a favor by putting that in the public record instead of leaving it in a back room. If they are of the form of "I think this law is unconstitutional" (like McCain-Feingold) then why the hell is he signing it? If they are of the form of "I intend to disregard this law completely whenever I feel like it" then yes that is troubling. Knowing Bush a lot of his signing statements include language like "I believe my emergency powers allow me to set aside this law if necessary to defend the security of the United States." Whether that is true or not is for the courts to decide.

But Specters plan doesn’t work for me. If you think the President is discharging his office unconstitutionally, then impeach him. If you think that the executive is improperly interpreting the law, then let the aggrieved sue the US government in court. But the current plan is a horrible scheme that also threatens separation of powers. Congress will be interfering with the president’s executive powers (which they do already of course) whenever they have the votes. The judicial oligarchy gets broad powers of oversight, but they haven’t shown the wisdom to use their current powers since FDR stacked the court in the 30s.

I’d much rather wait until Bush is out of office, at which point the signing statements will probably become worthless anyway unless the next guy agrees with them.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
On the other hand, the job of President is chief executive office of the US. He is in charge of "faithfully" executing our laws. The idea that this doesn’t require a certain level of interpretation is foolishness. Of course it does. Most laws have a fair bit of wiggle room and interpretation in their language. If his signing statements are generally of the form "this is how I intend to execute this law" then I have no problem with them. He’s actually doing us a favor by putting that in the public record instead of leaving it in a back room.
Agreed.
If they are of the form of "I think this law is unconstitutional" (like McCain-Feingold) then why the hell is he signing it?
Agreed.
If they are of the form of "I intend to disregard this law completely whenever I feel like it" then yes that is troubling. Knowing Bush a lot of his signing statements include language like "I believe my emergency powers allow me to set aside this law if necessary to defend the security of the United States." Whether that is true or not is for the courts to decide.
Agreed. So bring it to the courts, don’t play three-card monty.
But Specters plan doesn’t work for me. If you think the President is discharging his office unconstitutionally, then impeach him
Agreed. But obviously the Republican Congress is not about to initiate impeachment proceedings. This is on a par with Specter’s bill to gut FISA in order to save it. You are right, Jeff: sometimes it is better to do nothing if you can’t do the right thing.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
If previous presidents have used signing statements to challenge new laws and explain which parts they will not enforce, why are we only now going to sue the executive?

While I would like to see the constitutionality of this decided, it has a big whiff of political expediency on the part of Spector who needs to remind voters that he is not a Bush Republican. Was the ABA complaining about the 140 challenges made by Clinton? I don’t like the "he did it too" defense which is why I support the lawsuit, but this needs to be kept in perspective.

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
If previous presidents have used signing statements to challenge new laws and explain which parts they will not enforce, why are we only now going to sue the executive?
As I understand it, Bush has used signing statements more than all the previous presidents combined. That’s why it is an issue now.
 
Written By: Vivian J. Paige
URL: http://vivianpaige.wordpress.com
"As I understand it, Bush has used signing statements more than all the previous presidents combined."
The frequency with which he uses them lends them no force.

Who imagines "signing" statements have any force in law?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I think Vivian is correct as to the number of sigining statements by Pres. Bush (or at least close enough to make the argument valid).

Frankly, I don’t understand how the signing statements can have an legal weight whatsoever. I’ve read plenty of court opinions that reference legislative history (as dubious as that might be), but I can’t recall any that cite presidential signing statements.

AFAIK, if such statements were to have the force of law they would be an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the executive (see, e.g. "rule-making" limits in administrative law). The legislature is supposed to make the laws; the executive is tasked with enforcing them. IIRC, there is legal precedent (Chevron?) providing for deference to executive branch interpretations that are reasonable, but only where Congress has not spoken directly on the issue. When Congress has spoken, the executive is required to "faithfully execute" the laws. Any interpretation by the executive that emasculates the law or renders it nugatory* would be plainly unconstitutional I think.

Also, while agree that the Bush adminstration’s use of signing statements has been a weasly way to avoid vetoes, I think it is fair to say that the contentious nature of the 2000 election and the divided electorate practically forbid Bush from vetoing anything. Remember all the blather about "mandate"?
* Great word, huh? Only pompous a$$ lawyers and judges (same thing) use it, but it is a lot of fun to say (not that my mouth moves when I type ... a lot). Always makes me think of Snicker’s bars for some reason. YMMV.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
As I understand it, Bush has used signing statements more than all the previous presidents combined. That’s why it is an issue now.
So what? Using them to tell Congress which parts of a law you’re not going to enforce 140 times is not an issue, but it is when you get to 750? Was that the magic number for the ABA to start complaining?
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
FYI: Justice Scalia cited Bush’s presidential signing statement in the Hamdan case.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
As I understand it, Bush has used signing statements more than all the previous presidents combined. That’s why it is an issue now.
So what? Using them to tell Congress which parts of a law you’re not going to enforce 140 times is not an issue, but it is when you get to 750? Was that the magic number for the ABA to start complaining?
It certainly raises the visibility of the issue, don’t you think, JWG? Also, the substance of the signing statement is what really matters; most signing statements have been uncontroversial (i.e. not interpretive). Not so much with this administration.
FYI: Justice Scalia cited Bush’s presidential signing statement in the Hamdan case.
Thanks, David.

I must say that I’m surprised since Scalia eschews trying to divine "legislative intent."
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
I must say that I’m surprised since Scalia eschews trying to divine "legislative intent."
Yes, indeed, Michael. Probably Scalia’s way of further demeaning legislative history. With apologies to the non-lawyers, here is the quote with the notable portion (at the end) italicized by me, followed by footnote 5:
Worst of all is the Court’s reliance on the legislative history of the DTA to buttress its implausible reading of § 1005(e)(1). We have repeatedly held that such reliance is impermissible where, as here, the statutory language is unambiguous. But the Court nevertheless relies both on floor statements from the Senate and (quite heavily) on the drafting history of the DTA. To begin with floor statements: The Court urges that some "statements made by Senators preceding passage of the Act lend further support to" the Court’s interpretation, citing excerpts from the floor debate that support its view, ante, 15-16, n. 10. The Court immediately goes on to discount numerous floor statements by the DTA’s sponsors that flatly contradict its view, because "those statements [*186] appear to have been inserted into the Congressional Record after the Senate debate." Ibid. Of course this observation, even if true, makes no difference unless one indulges the fantasy that Senate floor speeches are attended (like the Philippics of Demosthenes) by throngs of eager listeners, instead of being delivered (like Demosthenes’ practice sessions on the beach) alone into a vast emptiness. Whether the floor statements are spoken where no Senator hears, or written where no Senator reads, they represent at most the views of a single Senator. In any event, the Court greatly exaggerates the one-sidedness of the portions of the floor debate that clearly occurred before the DTA’s enactment. Some of the statements of Senator Graham, a sponsor of the bill, only make sense on the assumption that pending cases are covered. n3 And at least one opponent of the DTA unmistakably expressed his understanding that it would terminate our jurisdiction in this very case. n4 (Of course in its discussion of legislative history the Court wholly ignores the President’s signing statement, which explicitly set forth his understanding that the DTA ousted jurisdiction over pending cases.n5 [*187])
n5 "The executive branch shall construe section 1005 to preclude the Federal courts from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over any existing or future action, including applications for writs of habeas corpus, described in section 1005." President’s Statement on Signing of H. R. 2863, the "Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006" (Dec. 30, 2005), available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/print/20051230 8.html.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Actually, I went and checked it out after you pointed me to the cite, David. I agree with your characterization.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
"We have repeatedly held that such reliance is impermissible where, as here, the statutory language is unambiguous"
If a signing statement, when ambiguity exists in law, makes more clear to a court what the President thought the law being signed meant, then they are very appropriate things.

Here, in Hamdan, the Supremem court majority has created ambiguity—by insisting the law was not what the leading legislators in the majority passing the law said it was.

And that is a far worse constitutional crisis.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Folks: Presidential signing statements have the same legal force as White House Christmas cards: Nada. As in ZERO. And zero plus zero times zero times more than all past Presidents put together still equals ZERO.

It’s Specter who is now fuggling with the balance of powers with his law, not Bush. A signing statement is just that, a statement, a political statement and nothing more. And when Scalia mentioned signing statements in Hamdan he wasn’t declaring them legitimate interpretive instruments, but rather he was mocking the majority’s appeal to Congressional history as an interpretive instrument. Scalia is a self-proclaimed "textualist." In his view, if it’s not in the text of the law, it’s not in the law.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
"A signing statement is just that, a statement, a political statement and nothing more."
I think signing statements can be legitimate sources of information with which a court can interpret a law. However, no such source from any quarter could legitmimately contradict the text of the law itself.

I also imagine that appropriate crcumstances to use a signing statement are rare.

What I can’t get is where anyone thinks that in producing "signing statements", this President or any President is doing any more of the other branches’ jobs than any person ever getting instructions from someone else is. Instructions are interpreted, always.

Political opponents of a view expressed in a signing statement should welcome them—I presume they afford grounds for immediate court review, and in any case do not hinder it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Bush is very conservative with his political capital when it comes to dealing with legislatures; he was like that when he was the Governor of Texas (with a Democratic Texas Leg) and he has been the same way in Washington. When it comes to dealing with lawmakers, he’s a very go along to get along kind of guy. He focuses his efforts lobbying lawmakers during the lawmaking process to get the language he prefers instead of swinging his veto around after the fact. Signing statements are simply his last little flair of political spin that he uses to bridge the political gap between his political supporters and the laws he signs.

Now we can debate the merits or lack thereof of such an executive strategy, but frankly I can’t see how anyone can view it as untoward, much less illegal.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
Carl Schmitt once wrote: "Sovereign is he who decides on the exception." But a president is not supposed to be a sovereign.
In these signing statements, it seems that Bush is deciding for himself when and how to apply laws: and most importantly, when not to. Thus, using the "emergency powers" excuse, he creates for the executive office a law-free sphere of action, subject only to his own arbitrary judgment, and also — at least temporarily — sidesteps the processes of debate by legislative and judicial authorities.
I’m not sure if suing is the right action to take, but certainly there MUST be a way to hold Bush accountable for these inappropriate assertions of authority.
 
Written By: Kat
URL: http://
In these signing statements, it seems that Bush is deciding for himself when and how to apply laws: and most importantly, when not to.
Well, he is the Decider, Kat.
I’m not sure if suing is the right action to take, but certainly there MUST be a way to hold Bush accountable for these inappropriate assertions of authority.
I largely agree with you, but I’m not sure that this is an assertion of authority, per se. It’s unquestionable that the executive has the authority to execute the laws, but does it have the discretion to only enforce part of a law? What does "faithfully execute" entail?

As is probably obvious by now, I am no constitutional scholar, but it seems to me that only enforcing part of a law does not equate to "faithfully execute" any more than if I only follow part of the work directives from my boss.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
"But a president is not supposed to be a sovereign."
I’m unaware that he is asserting he is.
"In these signing statements, it seems that Bush is deciding for himself when and how to apply laws: and most importantly, when not to."
Not until he ignores the Supreme Court he isn’t. And I must add, per Hamdan, the Court is the bunch ignoring the legislature, constitution, and history in Washington.
"Thus, using the "emergency powers" excuse, he creates for the executive office a law-free sphere of action, subject only to his own arbitrary judgment, and also — at least temporarily — sidesteps the processes of debate by legislative and judicial authorities."
His only "emergency powers" come from a Congressional declaration of war. The AUMF. What "emergency powers" has he claimed that you can point to?
"I’m not sure if suing is the right action to take, but certainly there MUST be a way to hold Bush accountable for these inappropriate assertions of authority."
Sue, or do not sue. Impeach, or do not impeach.

I’d advise a suit, because impeachment is solely a political act, and you just don’t have moxie. This court may also be sympathetic to your pretensions.

Do not pretend he’s doing things any differently than other executives have done, and expect to have any currency with me, or anyone with sense.

I presume you’d have removed Jefferson from office over the Louisiana Purchase?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Folks: Presidential signing statements have the same legal force as White House Christmas cards: Nada. As in ZERO. And zero plus zero times zero times more than all past Presidents put together still equals ZERO.

It’s Specter who is now fuggling with the balance of powers with his law, not Bush. A signing statement is just that, a statement, a political statement and nothing more. And when Scalia mentioned signing statements in Hamdan he wasn’t declaring them legitimate interpretive instruments, but rather he was mocking the majority’s appeal to Congressional history as an interpretive instrument. Scalia is a self-proclaimed "textualist." In his view, if it’s not in the text of the law, it’s not in the law.
Well, as I noted above, I do tend to agree with this assessment of Scalia’s view. However, even Scalia recognizes that when there is ambiguity in the text — and there is sometimes — then one may resort to legislative intent. (See the above quote from Hamdan: We have repeatedly held that such reliance is impermissible where, as here, the statutory language is unambiguous.) I think it streches to the evidence to say that Scalia claims them to be worthless. Applying the textualist approach to Scalia himself, all we know for sure is what Scalia wrote, and he appears to have placed presidential signing statements on a par with legislative history.
Bush is very conservative with his political capital when it comes to dealing with legislatures; he was like that when he was the Governor of Texas (with a Democratic Texas Leg) and he has been the same way in Washington. When it comes to dealing with lawmakers, he’s a very go along to get along kind of guy. He focuses his efforts lobbying lawmakers during the lawmaking process to get the language he prefers instead of swinging his veto around after the fact. Signing statements are simply his last little flair of political spin that he uses to bridge the political gap between his political supporters and the laws he signs.

Now we can debate the merits or lack thereof of such an executive strategy, but frankly I can’t see how anyone can view it as untoward, much less illegal.
Political PR is fine but when the chief executive — who is charged with faithfully executing the laws — declares in an extra-constitutional fashion that he will only enforce certain parts of the laws, or only enforce the laws in particular ways that suit him, I think that does indeed raise a constitutional problem. As Jeff said earlier, however, I also agree that Specter’s "solution" is probably itself unsconstitutional.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Point well taken, Mike. I guess I should have said instead of "assertion of authority" would be something more like: "unilateral assumption of a state of exception from the law".

And hi, Tom.
"Do not pretend he’s doing things any differently than other executives have done, and expect to have any currency with me, or anyone with sense."
But hasn’t Bush used the statements more than all other presidents combined in the history of the Republic? Certainly that is different and must bear critical scrutiny.
Now, as far as other presidents exercising wartime powers and attempting to extend those powers beyond the contexts that started them, yes, it’s been done before and in many constitutional democracies, not just the US. In the "state of exception" sometimes really awful things were done, and sometimes worthy things were done. All the more reason to keep the legal maneuvers under scrutiny.
 
Written By: Kat
URL: http://
PS RE: Emergency powers - I should clarify: the most high-profile statements in this controversy allow the Bush administration wartime-like powers to act without Congressional approval — without an official declaration by Congress:

According to the ABA, President Bush’s signing statements include "refusals to carry out laws involving ’Congressional requirements to report back to Congress on the use of Patriot Act authority to secretly search homes and seize private papers, [and] the McCain amendment forbidding any U.S. officials to use torture or cruel and inhumane treatment on prisoners.’
... President Bush’s signing statements are ’particularly adamant about preventing any of his subordinates from reporting directly to Congress.’" *
*http://www.abavideonews.org/ABA373/index.php
 
Written By: Kat
URL: http://
"But hasn’t Bush used the statements more than all other presidents combined in the history of the Republic?"
True and irrelevant. It does not change the legal character of the usage.
Now, as far as other presidents exercising wartime powers and attempting to extend those powers beyond the contexts that started them,
You assert two things, that there are "wartime" powers and that this President has attempted to extend them beyond the context in which they are approved by the legislature.

Can you back that up with respect to historical usage of "wartime powers"?

And if you feel this:

*http://www.abavideonews.org/ABA373/index.php

Backs you up, can you explain how the Congressional figures authorized to oversee "unacknowledged special access programs" seem to feel they’ve been informed—if not in the case of Sen. Rockefeller, smart enough to understand what they’ve been told?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Political PR is fine but when the chief executive — who is charged with faithfully executing the laws — declares in an extra-constitutional fashion that he will only enforce certain parts of the laws, or only enforce the laws in particular ways that suit him, I think that does indeed raise a constitutional problem. As Jeff said earlier, however, I also agree that Specter’s "solution" is probably itself unsconstitutional.
Well if there was a little meat on this bone, I would be inclined to agree. But so far I’m unaware of anyone accusing Bush of partially enforcing any law; I only see an abstract argument putting forward an abstract plausibility.

Certainly any President who serves will have, you know, a point of view, complete with opinions about the interpretation of the laws he or she is obliged to faithfully enforce. The fact that this President openly states his positions doesn’t seem particularly ominous to me.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
OK, I’m not saying I’m right and you’re wrong, like you seem to be doing. I was just adding some perspective to the debate that suggests this is a serious isssue that needs to be addressed; specifically I wanted to put forward a nugget of Schmitt and Agamben’s theories of the state of exception.

According to the ABA report, the character of Bush’s signing statements are different from most of those preceding them:
"the signing statements that signal the president’s intent to disregard laws adopted by Congress undermine the separation of powers by depriving Congress of the opportunity to override a veto, and by shutting off policy debate between the two branches of government. According to the task force, they operate as a ’line item veto,’ which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional... the task force [also] found that, while several recent presidents have used them, the frequency of signing statements that challenge laws has escalated substantially, and their purpose has changed dramatically, during the Bush Administration."

As far as SAPs go, they are highly controversial in terms of accountability and oversight. In fact, one of Bush’s signing statements reserves the right to defy a congressional act regarding the creation of new SAPs without adequate notice given to congressional defense committees.

If you want to read about the historical use, abuse, and co-option of wartime and wartime-like powers in constitutional democracies, read Giorgio Agamben’s "State of Exception" and then we can talk some more.

Got to sign off now.
 
Written By: Kat
URL: http://
This is from the ABA Report:

http://www.abanet.org/op/signingstatements/aba_final_signing_statements_recommendation-report_7-24-06.pdf
Some examples of signing statements in which President Bush has indicated he will not
follow the law are: bills banning the use of U.S. troops in combat against rebels in Colombia; bills
requiring reports to Congress when money from regular appropriations is diverted to secret
operations; two bills forbidding the use in military intelligence of materials “not lawfully collected”
in violation of the Fourth Amendment; a post-Abu Ghraib bill mandating new regulations for
military prisons in which military lawyers were permitted to advise commanders on the legality of
certain kinds of treatment even if the Department of Justice lawyers did not agree; bills requiring
the retraining of prison guards in humane treatment under the Geneva Conventions, requiring
background checks for civilian contractors in Iraq and banning contractors from performing
security, law enforcement, intelligence and criminal justice functions.

Perhaps the most prominent signing statements which conveyed refusals to carry out laws
involved:

! Congressional requirements to report back to Congress on the use of Patriot Act authority
to secretly search homes and seize private papers;

! The McCain amendment forbidding any U.S. officials to use torture or cruel, inhuman, or
degrading treatment on prisoners (the President said in his statement that as Commander
in Chief he could waive any such requirement if necessary to prevent terrorist attacks);

! A requirement that government scientists transmit their findings to Congress uncensored,
along with a guarantee that whistleblower employees at the Department of Energy and the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission will not be punished for providing information to
Congress about safety issues in the planned nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain
If you are suggesting that a president ought not be impeached merely for saying he willl not enforce the law, I agree. But it hardly promotes respect for the law when a president says that the law will be enforced only to the extent he deems it appropriate. Moreover, it seems to me that the Administration is exceedingly unlikely to inform Congress (or anyone else for that matter) when it does in fact break the law. Presidential signing statements should be discontinued because they are extra-constitutional and serve no purpose other than to foster disrepect for the law. It the president opposes the law, let him veto it. But if he signs the bil or the law passes over his veto he must enforce it as written, not as he wishes it were written, or thinks it should have been written. That is the essence of separation of powers in this area.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Anyone who thinks that he wants Congress to have the final say in running a war is an idiot. Yes, I know, "that is not what is being advocated here". I beg to differ; that is exactly what is being advocated here. Like many left-wing movements in the past, we are distracted with visions of poor souls who are suffering - oh wait, we don’t yet have any in this case - oh well, we have a concept that there might be some victims someday and that is enough for them to begin the campaign. It won’t make any difference anyway if there were no victims, once the advocates get the laws they want passed. After all, there could have possibly been some victims. By the time the idiocy of the legislation becomes evident...
The real victims will be all of us, when Congress screws up in the next war by passing currently politically popular laws that hamstring our forces and cost us the victory. Then, if we still exist [in whatever sense you want to select] we will be further rent by accusations that it was the [whatever] administration’s fault we lost the war versus Congress being at fault, so we won’t even be able to straighten out the mess for the next war.
"Oh, that kind of thing could never happen"! See Immigration.
Wake up, folks. Shifting more war power to Congress is not a wise idea. I know McQ agrees [link to recent post on Mr. Hastert, which underlines my point].
NOTE: I learned that one from GG. I don’t know if the Hastert story does or doesn’t underline my point. There is plenty of wiggle room, if I remember it. Come to think of it, it may actually detract from my point. Oh well, that never stopped GG and look how famous he is getting to be. Most readers never check the links anyway. I’ll be alright, so long as I don’t use sockpuppets. Improper use of links doesn’t seem to be a serious crime.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
I just re-read the post signed Notherbob2 above. After some review, I believe that it is an excellent post that makes a valid point. I like the writing style too and I cannot think of one thing I would add or change.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
Signing statements are the only alternative to the lack of a Presidential line item veto. What other way, not that Bush is the best example, is there to try and staunch the reckless greed, massive corruption, and deficit spending that infects both parties.

Bills are now constructed as major purpose omnibus measures that are hard to veto in toto, but yet are riddled with Amendments, earmarks giving the "pay to play" Beltway insiders their financial rewards and pork, or measures and laws inserted in a backroom giving special interest groups some power or measure of clout over the People in their cause.

Line item veto.

OR-

Signing statements.

Take your choice.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Line item veto.

OR-

Signing statements.

Take your choice.
There are certainly valid criticisms of Congressional legislating. And there may be a fair argument for a line-item veto. But the Bush Adminsitration is hardly using signing statements to save taxpayers’ money. Instead, the Bush Administration is employing presidential signing statements to suppport a grandiose theory of executive supremacy.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Line item veto.

OR-

Signing statements.


A line-item veto could, concievably be used by a president to limit spending when he disagrees with Congress’ priorities. Signing statements have in no way contributed to saving one dollar for one citizen, and are unlikely to ever do so.
As some people have pointed out above, the signing statement controversy is, as far as we know , smoke but no fire - Bush is clearly suggesting and try to create legitimacy for the idea that he doesn’t have to enforce laws passed by Congress (i.e., he doesn’t have to *treat them as, you know, laws*) - but no one has actually caught him flatly ignoring one of these laws on the basis of one of his signing statements. (Bush had no signing statements on FISA, of course, as it was passed in 1978).

I don’t support a line-item veto, because it would come hair-breadth close to giving the president legislative authority himself, and is way over the line on separation of powers. But to get to the point, what makes you think that the president is more likely to rein in spending than Congress? I don’t.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I just re-read the post signed Notherbob2 above. After some review, I believe that it is an excellent post that makes a valid point. I like the writing style too and I cannot think of one thing I would add or change.
That actually made me laugh out loud, Robert/notherbob2.
The real victims will be all of us, when Congress screws up in the next war by passing currently politically popular laws that hamstring our forces and cost us the victory.
I think you have a point here, Robert. Congress has been unforgivably irresponsible with respect to this war (among other things), both in the shameful politics played with real-world issues and the abdication of all oversight responsibilities. With such an irresponsible Congress, there is something comforting in my mind about a muscular presidency brooking no quarter when it comes to our enemies.

However, this war too shall come to pass. The rules in place when it’s over, especially regarding the relation of the executive to the legislative branch, will remain in place. Just because we find comfort in them now, does not mean that we will later. A vigorous (and fair) policing of the executive branch reach is necessary, even in a time of war.
Instead, the Bush Administration is employing presidential signing statements to suppport a grandiose theory of executive supremacy.
While I agree with you about most of this issue, David, I don’t subscribe to the dictator/tyrant motives imputed to the Bush administration. September 11th was real and greatly impacted our nation (and my life personally), so I appreciate the circumstances in which most of the policies, currently under scrutiny, were made.

Of course, just because we don’t have a tyrant now, doesn’t mean we won’t have one later. IMHO, legal precedents cementing a minimally supervised presidency only serve to attract the tyrant-types. Given that, I’m all in favor of Congress and the Judiciary keeping a close eye on the programs being used to protect us from terrorism. But it is just as important that the other branches soberly exercise their scrutiny with a minimum of partisan motives. The more that politics creeps into the oversight process, the less safe we become, and the more what we seek to protect becomes diminished.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://wdswrld.blogspot.com
From Wikipedia - When America was close to preventing the catastrophe of Bush and Congresses orgy of greed and runaway deficit spending - but was sued by the Grand Appropriator, Kleagle Sen Robert C Byrd, and blocked by the All-Wise Lawyers in robes from slapping another 38 trillion onto the kids and grandkids (3 trillion onto the existing cumulative Fed deficit, Bush - DeLay 13 billion in prescription drug subsidy to Big Pharma, 22 trillion additionally onto SS and medicare unfunded liabilities with failure of medical corporate cost control measures.

The Line Item Veto Act of 1996 enacted a line-item veto for the Federal Government of the United States, but its effect was brief due to judicial review.

The bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on April 9, 1996 and was immediately challenged in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by a group of six senators, first among whom was Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), where it was declared unconstitutional by District Judge Harry Jackson, a Reagan appointee, on April 10, 1997. The case was subsequently remanded by the Supreme Court of the United States with instructions to dismiss on the grounds that the senators had not suffered sufficient injury to press charges under Article III of the United States Constitution. The case, Raines v. Byrd, 521 U.S. 811 (1997), was handed down on June 26, 1997, and did not include a judgement on the constitutional grounds of the law.

It was used against one provision of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and two provisions of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 before being challenged again in two separate cases; one by the City of New York, two hospital associations, one hospital, and two health care unions; the other by a farmers’ cooperative from Idaho and an individual member of the cooperative. Senators Byrd, Moynihan, Levin, and Hatfield again opposed the law, this time through Amicus curiæ briefs. United States District Court Judge Thomas Hogan combined the cases and declared the law unconstitutional on February 12, 1998. This ruling was subsequently affirmed on June 25, 1998 by a 6-3 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case Clinton v. City of New York. Justices Breyer, Scalia, and O’Connor dissented.
43 States have the line-item veto. 3 more have legislation pending to adaopt it because of runaway spending emergencies.

The nature of Congress has changed as techniques have been devised that make it nearly impossible to veto Congressional pork, unfunded "appropriations", earmarked reward programs for big donors.

That All-Wise Lawyers in Robes say it is unconstitutional doesn’t make the present failure of any check on Spending a wonderful Founder idea. It is in the modern era of unrestrained Congressional greed and willingness to foist all bills onto the next generation - exceptionally stupid and urgently needs fixing. As dumb as the Constitution making all Federal judges judges for life and no way to push SCOTUS members in senility or invalided into "senior status". A moronic part of the Constitution that 49 states and all other nations rejected emulating as setting up an unaccountable lifetime aristocracy of appointed lawyers.

Already there is talk in younger populations of repudiating debts the boomers rang up and refused to pay for, or to just quit any funding for their SS and Medicare.

No way to they want to get stuck with the 48 trillion debt - 28 trillion of which is from Bush, and the corrupt Ruling Elite of the last decade.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
While I agree with you about most of this issue, David, I don’t subscribe to the dictator/tyrant motives imputed to the Bush administration. September 11th was real and greatly impacted our nation (and my life personally), so I appreciate the circumstances in which most of the policies, currently under scrutiny, were made.

Of course, just because we don’t have a tyrant now, doesn’t mean we won’t have one later. IMHO, legal precedents cementing a minimally supervised presidency only serve to attract the tyrant-types. Given that, I’m all in favor of Congress and the Judiciary keeping a close eye on the programs being used to protect us from terrorism. But it is just as important that the other branches soberly exercise their scrutiny with a minimum of partisan motives. The more that politics creeps into the oversight process, the less safe we become, and the more what we seek to protect becomes diminished.
Michael:

I appreciate your thoughtful response and I am sorry for what you suffered on 9/11. I think that the Bush Administration (the Cheney branch in particular) has long believed that the power of the executive branch has been improperly eroded since Watergate. Post-9/11, this view was adopted as official Adminstration policy. 9/11 was indeed a seminal event for the nation (which impacted my life personally as well), but I fear that, as significant as 9/11 was, the Administration has over-reacted to it, both in foreign affairs and domestically, with grave and far-reaching consequences for the nation. That, I think, is the great tragedy of the Bush Administration (and the rest of us, for that matter). As for partisanship: I think it is a wasteful, often destructive by-product of the American political duopoly, and it is something I would love to see eliminated.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider