Obama Uses Signing Statements, Though Maybe Not Like Bush. Sigh

He may not abuse them like Bush did, but that doesn't make me feel much better about the practice.


By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Signing statements live on. I noted earlier this week that Barack Obama had nullified the "signing statements" that George W. Bush used 1,200 times (that's twice as many as the first 42 presidents combined) to unilaterally void sections of laws that he did not like. Now Obama has employed the same device.

In fairness, Obama had not renounced them entirely. And, the New York Times cites an NYU law professor as describing the issues Obama line-vetoed with his signing statements as being uncontroversial, low-key stuff. And only time will tell whether he abuses this "power" in the same way that King George (the Bush) did.

From the Times:

The Bush administration defended its use of signing statements as lawful and appropriate. The American Bar Association, on the other hand, condemned them as "contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional separation of powers," and called on presidents to stop using them.

Other legal specialists have argued that there is a role for the practice so long as presidents invoke only mainstream legal theories. They say Congress sometimes includes minor constitutional flaws in important bills that are impractical to veto.

"Other legal specialists" may be correct; but I tend to side with the ABA here. President should not be able to selectively veto portions of laws.

On Facebook? You can keep up with Thomas Jefferson Street blog postings through Facebook's Networked Blogs.