Thursday, June 29, 2006

Signing statements get scrutiny

Bush's previously reported addiction to signing statements will now get Congressional scrutiny, courtesy of Arlen Specter.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter yesterday scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday on President Bush's use of signing statements to claim the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office.

Specter said he is asking the Bush administration to send an official from the Justice Department to testify before the committee about the president's legal contentions, as well as several constitutional law scholars. It was not yet clear who from the administration would come, he said.

"I think that the president is trying to expand his executive authority at the expense of Congress's constitutional prerogatives, and it's very problemsome," Specter said in a phone interview. "I want to get into the details with the administration on what they think their legal authority is."

Good for him. It's one thing for Bush to issue a signing statement saying he believes the law is wrong or unconstitutional; it's another for him to actually disregard the law. One is opinion; the other is constitutionally dangerous.

So what I want to hear is how Bush has treated those laws. Were the statements merely his opinion, or did they guide how (and whether) he followed the law in question?

Bush supporters note that he's not the first president to use signing statements, and the Justice Department argues that Bush's practices are in line with that of his predecessors.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michelle E. Boardman testified during the committee's hearing on signing statements [committee materials] that presidents dating to James Monroe have used the statements to express constitutional concerns about legislation. President Bush's use of the technique is "indistinguishable" from that of previous presidents, according to Boardman's prepared remarks [text], and the number of statements Bush has issued "is in keeping with the number issued by every President during the past quarter century." She continued:

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michelle E. Boardman testified during the committee's hearing on signing statements [committee materials] that presidents dating to James Monroe have used the statements to express constitutional concerns about legislation. President Bush's use of the technique is "indistinguishable" from that of previous presidents, according to Boardman's prepared remarks [text], and the number of statements Bush has issued "is in keeping with the number issued by every President during the past quarter century." She continued:

If she's right, then no problem. But I want to see examples of how various laws were handled. I want to know whether they're bluster or something more troublesome.

, , , ,

Labels: ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home