Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New York Times Editorial - Read the fine print

New York Times Editorial - Read the fine print
Copyright by The New York Times
Published: July 25, 2006


Over 212 years, 42 presidents issued "signing statements" objecting to a grand total of 600 provisions of new laws. George W. Bush has done that more than 800 times in just over five and a half years in office.

Most presidents used signing statements to get legal objections on the record for judges to consider in any court challenge. For Bush, they are part of a strategy to expand presidential powers at the expense of Congress and the courts. His signing statements have become notices to Congress that he simply does not intend to follow the law, especially any attempt to hold him accountable for his actions.

Some of Bush's signing statements have become notorious, like the one in which he said he didn't feel bound by the new law against torturing prisoners. Others were more obscure, like the one in which he said he would not follow a law forbidding the White House to censor or withhold scientific data requested by Congress.

But all serve the "unitary executive theory" cherished by some of Bush's most extreme advisers, including Vice President Dick Cheney and his legal staff. This theory says that the president - and not Congress or the courts - has the sole power to decide how to carry out his duties.

Administration officials say the president is just trying to stop Congress from interfering with his ability to keep the nation safe, and that other presidents also included constitutional objections in their signing statements. That's just smoke.
The American Bar Association called Bush's use of presidential signing statements "contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers" and recommended that Congress enact legislation clarifying the issue.
We agree on both points. But we fear that if Congress passes such a bill, Bush will simply issue a new signing statement saying he does not intend to follow it.

2 Comments:

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