Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bush's Use of Authority Riles Senator

NYT reported Senators on the Judiciary Committee accused President Bush of an "unprecedented" and "astonishing" power grab on Tuesday for making use of a device that gave him the authority to revise or ignore more than 750 laws enacted since he became president. By using what are known as signing statements

Which have been used by previous presidents.
, memorandums issued with legislation as he signs it, the president has reserved the right to not enforce any laws he thinks violate the Constitution or national security, or that impair foreign relations.
Courts consider Congressional Intent in addition to the text of a law; why should they not also have access to a statement of Presidential intent. There are many books on the law now; why is it wrong for the President to say he believe a law to be unconstitutional and that he will not enforce it.
A lawyer for the White House said that Mr. Bush was only doing his duty to uphold the Constitution. But Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, characterized the president's actions as a declaration that he "will do as he pleases," without regard to the laws passed by Congress. "There's a real issue here as to whether the president may, in effect, cherry-pick the provisions he likes and exclude the ones he doesn't like," Mr. Specter said at a hearing. "Wouldn't it be better, as a matter of comity," he said, "for the president to have come to the Congress and said, 'I'd like to have this in the bill; I'd like to have these exceptions in the bill,' so that we could have considered that?"
Probably. I certainly wish he had vetoed some spending bills.
.... Senators and two law professors before the panel said that if the president objected to a bill, he should use his power to veto it — something he has not done in his six years in office.... Ms. Boardman said the president had inserted 110 statements, which senators said applied to 750 statutes, compared with 30 by President Jimmy Carter.
And there was not a war on when Carter was President, so Congress was not trying to tell him how to fight it.
The number has increased, she said, but only marginally, and only because national security concerns have increased since the attacks of Sept. 11 and more laws have been passed. She acknowledged that the increase might be construed as "a lack of good communication" with Congress. But Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said the committee was making too much of the statements. "It is precedented," he said, "and it's not new."

Boston Globe reported The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Arlen Specter, said yesterday that he is ``seriously considering" filing legislation to give Congress legal standing to sue President Bush over his use of signing statements to reserve the right to bypass laws.
And if it passes, is he sure Bush will not veto it?

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