Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Signing Statements

About a year ago, I had a conversation, lush with legal geekery, about Presidential "signing statements." At the time, I blithely criticized "legislative history," describing it as a poor determinant of the scope or applicability of a law; Congress voted on the law, not what one member said [or even one House or Senate report said], and resort to the legislative history should be the last resort. I also opined that I didn't have a big problem with presidential signing statements; the executive had just as much right to offer an opinion of what a law means as the legislature, I thought. What the law actually says should determine what it means, and looking behind the language should only occur when the language is ambiguous and unintelligble. And courts should effectively demand that laws be written to be understood.

I'm not sure any of that is wrong.

But the use of a signing statement by the President to sidestep a veto, and then declare that a law is "inapplicable" is a perversion of our system of government. The New York Times
editorial on the topic makes a few good points, and Sen. Specter's upcoming bill to sue the President is the right thing for the legislature to do. NOT because they get to be the sole determiner [see how I used the variant appropriately?] of what the law says -- the executive gets a say, and the judiciary gets THE say -- but because the Constitution directs a president who does not approve of a law to veto it, and suffer the appropriate political fate.

This $#%^$#!% wants everything both ways!!!!!! GodDAMMIT, do they drive everyone away?





[well, no; but don't fuck with my rhetorical flourish.]

3 Comments:

Anonymous Jestaplero said...

Way to go.

Then there's also the matter of Article II Section 3 of the Constitution, which says the Prez "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed". I'm not sure how he can be said to fulfilling his oath of office when he is unfaithfully not executing laws passed by Congress.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 10:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Juvenile Buffoon said...

This $#%^$#!% wants everything both ways!!!!!! GodDAMMIT, do they drive everyone away?

During my extremely brief (3 months?) career as a plaintiff's lawyer, a defense counsel once said to me "If they put out the slop, I can't blame the pigs for feeding from it" [meaning if the judges allowed the kinds of suits we were bringing, he didn't blame us for bringing them].

Why should Bush NOT think he can have things both ways as long as the GOP never really has to pay the price for it?

I think they are counting on apathy, an absence of general outrage from the electorate.

Despite the FIASCO their stewardship of the country has been, they look ahead to no more a threat to their lock on power than a) a close call on holding their majorities in the House and Senate on '06, and b) Hillary vs McCain in '08.

So, why should they do anything differently, when, despite the continuing, unmitigated disaster their leadership has been, they are really not in that much political hot water, at the end of the day?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 12:36:00 am  
Blogger Blog Pimp said...

So, why should they do anything differently, when, despite the continuing, unmitigated disaster their leadership has been, they are really not in that much political hot water, at the end of the day?

Why should they indeed? The electorate seem to have confirmed that they want this behaviour?


Or should that read: The electorate seem to have confirmed that it wants this behaviour?

Hep me out, peoples. . .


Can't find anything in the usage guides . . .

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 10:20:00 am  

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