Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Elsie Law's Daily Dose Of The Law: The Presidential Use Of Signing Statements

Yesterday, President Obama initiated a review of how his predecessor implemented laws passed by Congress. The current President of The United States is likely to follow a different procedure than former President George W. Bush did when it comes to how he will order the government to follow the law.

When he was President, George W. Bush favored "signing statements." These statements were issued when former President Bush signed a bill into law that his administration didn't agree with. He would attach these statements to legislation.

According to The Wall Street Journal, critics of the signing statements practice have proclaimed that, "the statements at times showed government officials how to circumvent the law if Bush disagreed with it on Constitutional grounds...Mr. Bush used his statements to circumvent Congress' ban on torture, and prohibitions against using federal tax dollars to build a permanent military base in Iraq."

President Obama seems to concur with the criticism that signing statements have the potential to over-step boundaries. His preference is that his administration works closely with Congress in creating legislation. This way all of the legalities will likely be agreed upon before the legislation reaches his desk for signature. This cooperative strategy could greatly reduce the necessity of signing statements.

President Obama has pledged that he will exercise great restraint and caution before issuing a signing statement.

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