« Tony Blair To Announce Resignation | Main | Conservative Democrats to Side with Bush on Iraq Funding? »

Oh, Sue-zanna...

There are a lot of criticisms of President Bush I can understand. There are some I can respect. But there are a lot that I look at and my brain just seizes up and I find myself boggling at the idiocy.

One of those is Bush's use of "signing statements" of legislation. This one has the Nutroots frothing on a fairly regular basis, and I just don't understand why. In fact, it has Nancy Pelosi so worked up, she's threatening to sue Bush over them.

From my understanding, Bush's signing statements are little notes that he puts after his signature after he makes a bill into a law. The statement outlines which parts of the measure he disagrees with and spells out why he doesn't like them.

These signing statements have absolutely no legal standing. They are simply Bush laying groundwork for a legal battle if -- that's IF -- he decides to challenge the Constitutionality of the law at a future date.

Hell, if anything, it's a tactical blunder. He's spelling out just what arguments he will use should he challenge the law in the future, tipping his hand and allowing his opponents plenty of time to prepare counterarguments.

But by themselves, the statements are meaningless and powerless. It's the equivalent of signing a restaurant check while telling the waiter "I don't think the veal was worth what you charged me." Or even writing below it "I think I am being overcharged here." The signature is the legally-binding aspect; the addendum means nothing UNLESS and UNTIL the signing party chooses to dispute the matter.

But then again, it occurs to me that it might be a good thing overall if Pelosi does sue Bush. If nothing else, it'll keep her from doing other, more damaging things, and it is such a slam-dunk case that Bush could assign the matter to some very junior counsel just so that minion could add "walked all over the Speaker of the House in court" to his or her resume.


Comments (22)

Here is a long article with... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

Here is a long article with many, many examples of why "the Nutroots are frothing on a fairly regular basis" about signing statements:

"In his signing statements, Bush has repeatedly asserted that the Constitution gives him the right to ignore numerous sections of the bills"

"He agrees to a compromise with members of Congress, and all of them are there for a public bill-signing ceremony, but then he takes back those compromises"

[ . . . ]

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/04/30/bush_challenges_hundreds_of_laws/

Nancy threatening to sue, a... (Below threshold)
kim:

Nancy threatening to sue, and Hillary threatening to defund are both absurd, but the American people will be protected from understanding that. These two will be portrayed as desperate women pulling out all the stops to halt the madman Bushitler.
-=====================================

If these signing statements... (Below threshold)
Allen:

If these signing statements are, in your opinion, don't mean anything, why is he doing it? Maybe some more research is required.

"Legal scholars say the sco... (Below threshold)
JFO:

"Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional."
So much for one's "brain seizing up" about nothing.

Executing implies acting no... (Below threshold)
kim:

Executing implies acting not as explicitly expected. There is a dynamic between the written document and the application of it, and Bush is helping to construct the framework of the debate about the dynamic.

It looks constructive as an administrative maneuver.
=================================

kim: You're good f... (Below threshold)
JFO:

kim:

You're good for at least one laugh a day.


"Main Entry: ex·e·cute
transitive verb
1 : to carry out fully : put completely into effect "

Have you ever seen a law fu... (Below threshold)
kim:

Have you ever seen a law fully implemented?

Now, I'm laughing.

But it's just to hide the deep sense of sorrow I have.
===============

kim:Were i you and... (Below threshold)
jFO:

kim:

Were i you and with your political beliefs I'd be full or sorrow too. But hey, smile, today is a good day.

The heat generated from the... (Below threshold)
kim:

The heat generated from the friction where the rubber meets the road is enough is enough to thaw frigid fingers, warm the cockles of the heart, and provoke a smile. Thanks.
=============================

It seems to be a tit-for-ta... (Below threshold)

It seems to be a tit-for-tat on "non-binding resolutions". That seems to be a favorite of some Democrats. What is it with people who criticize incessantly, yet get all worked up in a lather, threatening legal recourse, when any form of criticism is returned?

Even John Kerry is freaking out right now, calling the nutroots to action, asking that they urge the "media gate-keepers" to put an end to the "right-wing's" criticism of Reid and Pelosi.

Bush: I don't agree with this.
Democrat leadership: How DARE you!

"Executing implies actin... (Below threshold)
Wieder:

"Executing implies acting not as explicitly expected. There is a dynamic between the written document and the application of it, and Bush is helping to construct the framework of the debate about the dynamic"

Looks like a half-baked argument that should have been flushed with the morning dump rather than posted.

Adrian... Here's Larry Tri... (Below threshold)
Gizmo:

Adrian... Here's Larry Tribe's (no friend of Bush) analysis of the whole "signing statement" tempest in a tea pot: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/08/09/signing_statements_are_a_phantom_target/

"'Signing statements' are a phantom target
By Laurence H. Tribe - August 9, 2006

THE FINAL REPORT of the American Bar Association Task Force opposing presidential ``signing statements" barks up a constitutionally barren tree. It's not the statements that are the true source of constitutional difficulty. On the contrary, signing statements, which a president can issue to indicate the way he intends to direct his administration to construe ambiguous statutes, are informative and constitutionally unobjectionable. So too are many signing statements signaling a president's intention not to enforce a particular provision that he deems constitutionally offensive in an otherwise unobjectionable omnibus measure that he's not prepared to veto.

Statements of the latter character have been issued by prior presidents of both political parties without protest from critics in Congress or elsewhere, and wisely so, for it seems to me a serious mistake to maintain that a president's only legitimate options are either to veto an entire bill or to sign it and then enforce it in its entirety regardless of his good-faith views as to constitutional infirmities, either of some part of the bill or of some set of possible applications."

Gotta dispute this one with... (Below threshold)
Ben:

Gotta dispute this one with ya.
A signing statement can be a clarification of a vague item in a contract, or a law.

For example, if we have a contract that says I have to deliver to you a new car, and along with my signature I incorporate a note saying I interpret "new" meaning previously unowned by you-and you accept this signature- then you accept that I may deliver a beat up old car with half a million miles on it. In fact, if you write conditions on a check, and that check is cashed, your "signing statements" are legally binding. In an era when presidents can dispute the meaning of "is", this means that virtually any bill is subject to the presidents interpretation, and unless Congress immediately objects to a signing statement, the Court would assume the president's interpretation was accepted if the law goes into effect.

So the effect is actually the reverse of what you have stated: it is not defense for a future dispute, it is a sort of challenge: dispute this right now, or, by your tacit acceptance, you signal your agreement with my interpretation.

Ben

it is such a slam-... (Below threshold)
kbiel:
it is such a slam-dunk case that Bush could assign the matter to some very junior counsel just so that minion could add "walked all over the Speaker of the House in court" to his or her resume.

Alternatively, Bush could accept Gonzo's resignation as AG and reappoint him as Whitehouse counsel, just to take this case. That would be fun to watch.

People need to remember Bus... (Below threshold)
Roy:

People need to remember Bush's sense of humor. He uses signing statements against the Dems just like that kid in class used his nails on the blackboard.

I like how jfo posts random... (Below threshold)
D-Hoggs:

I like how jfo posts random quotes with zero attribution, guess we're just to take his word for it. HAH!

In fact, if you write co... (Below threshold)
Brian:

In fact, if you write conditions on a check, and that check is cashed, your "signing statements" are legally binding.

False.

"It's the equivalent of sig... (Below threshold)

"It's the equivalent of signing a restaurant check while telling the waiter 'I don't think the veal was worth what you charged me.'"

No Jay. If I were to use your restaurant analogy, I'd say it's more equivalent to signing the restaurant check and saying "I may tell my credit card company to cancel (or reduce) the charge for this meal, because I don't believe I have to pay the veal plate."

oyster,That's a go... (Below threshold)
Eric:

oyster,

That's a good analogy. By telling your waiter that you have done nothing that's legally binding. You're just pointing out you may do something.

Bush's signing statements mean absolutly nothing legally except when he says "As I sign this my understanding of what this means is..." That might be used in court someday if a later administration applied the law in some fundamentally different way.

When he says "I think this part is unconstitutional", it means nothing. If he doesn't apply the law as written his administration can be taken to court regardless of the presence or content of a signing statement.

Pretty much the whole thing is a mock-up of the tinfoil hat crowd.

Wieder reaches into the toi... (Below threshold)
kim:

Wieder reaches into the toilet to find a metaphor to smear on the wall to distract us from the fact that he doesn't otherwise respond to my post.
========================

Signing statements are like... (Below threshold)
kim:

Signing statements are like road markings for historians.

The innnovation is productive; it'll stay.
============================

Did I say historians when I... (Below threshold)
kim:

Did I say historians when I probably meant legal scholars? OK, legal, and constitutional, historians will enjoy signing statements. Soon we'll have counterstatements to the signing statements.

Byzantio.
========================================




Advertisements









rightads.gif

beltwaybloggers.gif

insiderslogo.jpg

mba_blue.gif

Follow Wizbang

Follow Wizbang on FacebookFollow Wizbang on TwitterSubscribe to Wizbang feedWizbang Mobile

Contact

Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Fresh Links

Credits

Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

Emeritus: Paul, Mary Katherine Ham, Jim Addison, Alexander K. McClure, Cassy Fiano, Bill Jempty, John Stansbury, Rob Port

In Memorium: HughS

All original content copyright © 2003-2010 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark.

Powered by Movable Type Pro 4.361

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.

Author Login



Terms Of Service

DCMA Compliance Notice

Privacy Policy