Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Maybe I Will, and Maybe I Won't

Senator Arlen Specter claims he is not owned by the Emperor. He has promised hearings on all sorts of issues, but when it comes time, Mr. Specter's harumphing is replaced by the sounds of crickets. The latest outrage he intends to inevestigate is that of presidential signing statements. From the AP comes this article by Laurie Kellman.

A bill becomes the rule of the land when Congress passes it and the president signs it into law, right?

Not necessarily, according to the White House. A law is not binding when a president issues a separate statement saying he reserves the right to revise, interpret or disregard it on national security and constitutional grounds.

That's the argument a Bush administration official is expected to make Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who has demanded a hearing on a practice he considers an example of the administration's abuse of power.

"It's a challenge to the plain language of the Constitution," Specter said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'm interested to hear from the administration just what research they've done to lead them to the conclusion that they can cherry-pick."

...But the session also concerns countering any influence Bush's signing statements may have on court decisions regarding the new laws. Courts can be expected to look to the legislature for intent, not the executive, said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas., a former state judge.

"There's less here than meets the eye," Cornyn said. "The president is entitled to express his opinion. It's the courts that determine what the law is."

But Specter and his allies maintain that Bush is doing an end-run around the veto process. In his presidency's sixth year, Bush has yet to issue a single veto that could be overridden with a two-thirds majority in each house.

Instead, he has issued hundreds of signing statements invoking his right to interpret or ignore laws on everything from whistleblower protections to how Congress oversees the Patriot Act.
[Emphasis added]

The Emperor is not the first to issue signing statements, but generally speaking (as the article points out), past presidents have used the statements to direct enforcement of the law by the appropriate federal agency. Mr. Bush uses them to make it clear he is above the law being passed and he will decided whether or not to abide by it himself or to enforce it. This is clearly unconstitutional. The question at this point is whether anyone in Congress is going to do anything about it.

Mr. Specter claims he will, but his track record on facing down the White House is not very impressive in that regard. Maybe this time? Possibly, but not likely.

1 Comments:

Anonymous sister of ye said...

A law is not binding when a president issues a separate statement saying he reserves the right to revise, interpret or disregard it on national security and constitutional grounds.

If we had any patriots left, we'd have Congress, the press and the citizenry at large standing up and yelling "Ex-cuuuse me?"

The lefty blogs, the last refuge of the citizen patriots - and the start of the next revolution?

7:12 PM  

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