Entry in progress—B.P.
Wikipedia: Signing statement
A signing statement is a written pronouncement issued by the President of the United States upon the signing of a bill into law. They are usually printed along with the bill in United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCCAN).
During the administration of President George W. Bush, there was a controversy over the President’s use of signing statements, which critics charged was unusually extensive and modified the meaning of statutes. The practice predates the Bush administration, however, and has since been continued by the Obama administration. In July 2006, a task force of the American Bar Association stated that the use of signing statements to modify the meaning of duly enacted laws serves to “undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers”.
No United States Constitution provision, federal statute, or common-law principle explicitly permits or prohibits signing statements. Article I, Section 7 (in the Presentment Clause) empowers the president to veto a law in its entirety, to sign it, or to do nothing. Article II, Section 3 requires that the executive “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”.
Signing statements do not appear to have legal force by themselves, although they are all published in the Federal Register. As a practical matter, they may give notice of the way that the Executive intends to implement a law, which may make them more significant than the text of the law itself. There is a controversy about whether they should be considered as part of legislative history; proponents argue that they reflect the executive’s position in negotiating with Congress; opponents assert that the executive’s view of a law is not constitutionally part of the legislative history because only the Congress may make law.
Presidential signing statements maintain particular potency with federal executive agencies, since these agencies are often responsible for the administration and enforcement of federal laws. A 2007 article in the Administrative Law Review noted how some federal agencies’ usage of signing statements may not withstand legal challenges under common law standards of judicial deference to agency action.
Supreme Court rulings
The Supreme Court has not squarely addressed the limits of signing statements.
The first president to issue a signing statement was James Monroe. Until the 1980s, with some exceptions, signing statements were generally triumphal, rhetorical, or political proclamations and went mostly unannounced. Until Ronald Reagan became President, only 75 statements had been issued; Reagan and his successors George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton produced 247 signing statements among the three of them. By the end of 2004, George W. Bush had issued 108 signing statements containing 505 constitutional challenges. As of January 30, 2008, he had signed 157 signing statements challenging over 1,100 provisions of federal law.
The American Presidency Project
Presidential Signing Statements
Hoover - Obama
Frequently Asked Questions… by John T. Woolley
Q: What is a Signing Statement?
A: A “Signing Statement” is a written comment issued by a President at the time of signing legislation. Often signing statements merely comment on the bill signed, saying that it is good legislation or meets some pressing needs. The more controversial statements involve claims by presidents that they believe some part of the legislation is unconstitutional and therefore they intend to ignore it or to implement it only in ways they believe is constitutional. Some critics argue that the proper presidential action is either to veto the legislation (Constitution, Article I, section 7) or to “faithfully execute” the laws (Constitution, Article II, section 3).
Q: Is George W. Bush the first President to issue signing statements?
A: NO. Several sources trace “signing statements” back to James Monroe.
Q: Didn’t the American Bar Association declare that Bush’s use of signing statements was unconstitutional?
A: In July 2006, an ABA “Blue Ribbon Task Force”—not “The ABA”—found that these presidential assertions of constitutional authority “undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers.” The report of the bipartisan commission, which relied on the American Presidency Project database, can be found here: http://www.abanet.org/media/docs/signstatereport.pdf
Q: What does the ABA Task Force say the president should do if he thinks a bill passed by congress includes unconstitutional provisions
A: Veto the bill.
Washington (DC) Post
‘Signing Statements’ Study Finds Administration Has Ignored Laws
For the first time, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office—Congress’s investigative arm—tried to ascertain whether the administration has made good on such declarations of presidential power. In appropriations acts for fiscal 2006, GAO investigators found 160 separate provisions that Bush had objected to in signing statements. They then chose 19 to follow.
Nevertheless, the GAO’s findings are legally significant, said Bruce Fein, a conservative constitutional lawyer who served on an American Bar Association task force that excoriated the president’s use of signing statements in a report last year. White House officials have dismissed such concerns as overblown, suggesting that the statements were staking out legal positions, not broadcasting the administration’s intentions.
But the GAO report suggests that the dispute over signing statements is not an academic one, Fein said, adding that Congress could use the report to take collective legal action against the White House.
Of those 19 provisions, six—nearly a third—were not carried out according to law. Ten were executed by the executive branch. On three others, conditions did not require an executive branch response.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Saturday, April 16, 2011 • Permalink