Tuesday, July 25, 2006

specter ready to sue president bush over unconstitutional signing statements

Since the beginning of his administration, President Bush has shown that he doesn't put much stock in what Congress says. After all, he's the decider. Even though he just used his first veto last week over the stem cell research bill, he has shown his contempt for over 800 individual laws in the bills he has signed by creating signing statements in which he declares that he doesn't really have to listen to the legislation even after it becomes law.

Signing statements have been used by presidents, typically for such purposes as instructing agencies how to execute new laws.

But many of Bush's signing statements serve notice that he believes parts of bills he is signing are unconstitutional or might violate national security.

The White House insists that these signing statements are not intended to provide the president a means in which to ignore the law, but others feel differently: namely, the American Bar Association.

President Bush's penchant for writing exceptions to laws he has just signed violates the Constitution, an American Bar Association task force says in a report highly critical of the practice.

The ABA group, which includes a one-time FBI director and former federal appeals court judge, said the president has overstepped his authority in attaching challenges to hundreds of new laws.

Now, Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, has decided that the time has come to challenge President Bush's blatant disregard for constitutional measure. Senator Specter has said that he will have a bill ready by Monday allowing Congress to sue the president in a federal court.
"We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will... authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, said on the Senate floor.

Specter's announcement came the same day that an American Bar Association task force concluded that by attaching conditions to legislation, the president has sidestepped his constitutional duty to either sign a bill, veto it, or take no action.
The ABA report that found Bush's signing statements unconstitutional also came to the conclusion that the unlawful practice came about during the Reagan administration. Apparently, President Reagan was instructed to use this "strategic weapon" by young lawyer Samuel Alito, Bush's latest Supreme Court installment.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn was quick to side with the president, as usual. He pointed out that signing statements hold no weight in the courts and are nothing more than expressions of presidential opinion. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, when pressed on the issue, said that "it's important for the president at least to express reservations about the constitutionality of certain provisions."

According to top Democrats, Specter's legislation will be supported by the progressive caucus and many moderate Republicans. Senator Patrick Leahy, senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committe and a Vermont Democrat, said last month that "we are at a pivotal moment in our nation's history, where Americans are faced with a president who makes sweeping claims for almost unchecked executive power."


Anonymous said...

The suit is a political ploy to get in the way of using this as a call for impeachment.
Obviously, if leading legal authorities representing a wide spectrum of political persuasion believe the President's action to be unconstitutional then these acts are worthy of a call to investigate for impeachment.
Remember, impeachment is the indictment, which takes place in the House of Representatives, the trial occurs in the Senate.
Specter calling to sue the president is a stall to impede a investigation for impeachment.

Bradley said...

Good to see you commenting here at the blog! Your opinion is always of interest to me. You always have a new insight into something and make me look at something in a way I haven't before.

The way I look at it, this is a big step in the Republican-led Congress. They aren't going to even discuss impeachment until there is a Democratic majority in at least one of the houses. At least the president will be made to be held responsible for some of his illegal actions to a degree. We'll let the Democrats take over in November and get down to the real work on investigating this president's numerous breaches of constitutional law.