ABA Report on Presiidental Signing Statements

July 25, 2006

Today, the American Bar Association released a "blue-ribbon panel" report on the harm that Presidential Signing Statements are doing to separation of powers and the constitutional republic: "The American Bar Association opposes, as contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers, the issuance of presidential signing statements that claim the authority or state the intention to disregard or decline to enforce all or part of a law the President has signed, or to interpret such a law in a manner inconsistent with the clear intent of Congress"

New York Times: Legal Group Faults Bush for Ignoring Parts of Bills: "In a comprehensive report, a bipartisan 11-member panel of the bar association said Mr. Bush had used such ‘signing statements’ far more than his predecessors, raising constitutional objections to more than 800 provisions in more than 100 laws on the ground that they infringed on his prerogatives."

Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog: Analysis: ABA, the courts and the presidency:

A task force of the American Bar Association is urging Congress to give the Supreme Court and lower federal courts the power to judge the constitutionality of a president's public statements of how new laws will be enforced -- apparently, before a president ever takes action to carry out such a statement. For the first time in history, it appears, the courts would have the authority to review presidential intentions, as opposed to fully formed or final actions. That is perhaps the boldest (though least explained) of the recommendations that the task force made on Monday in a new report that is sharply critical of presidential "signing statements" -- the official utterances of presidents when they sign a new piece of legislation into law, putting their spin on meaning.

Marty Lederman, Balkinization: ABA Task Force Report on Presidential Signing Statements: "But I am a bit surprised by the Report's central conclusion, which is that the President may not refuse to enforce statutes that he deems unconstitutional."

William Patry: ABA and Signing Statements: "This is a serious issue on its own, but it is also a window into a systemic crisis in our country: a President who is contemptuous of the Constitution, the rule of law, and anything and anybody who stands in the way of what he wants to do. Within the Administration, these steps are the actualization of a 'unitary executive' theory. The term 'unitary' is quite telling, since it replaces three with one. Most people would call the result of a unitary form of government a dictatorship."

Posted by Andrew Raff at July 25, 2006 9:15 AM
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