Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama reviewing Bush's past Presidential signing statements


President Barack Obama ordered federal agencies to get legal reviews of statements that his predecessors, including George W. Bush, used to challenge parts of new laws they viewed as unconstitutional.

Obama, in a two-page memorandum he issued yesterday, also preserved the right to rely on the so-called signing statements to make similar challenges.

“In a way, he’s saying, ‘Yes, we’re not going to accept this body of presidential law by the previous presidents,’” said Phillip Cooper, a professor at Portland State University who has studied signing statements. “But he’s serving notice that he may make use of the presidential signing statement as a device.”

Obama’s memorandum instructed federal agencies to ask the attorney general’s office for guidance before relying on a past signing statement as a reason to disregard a statute’s provision. He said there can be “no doubt that the practice of issuing such statements can be abused,” words that signaled his latest break from Bush’s approach to executive authority.

Obama said he would attach signing statements to legislation “only when it is appropriate to do so as a means of discharging my constitutional responsibilities.” He also laid out a set of principles that will govern his use of signing statements.

Signing statements should “not be used to suggest that the president will disregard statutory requirements on the basis of policy disagreements,” Obama said in the memorandum.

“He is at least saying what’s he’s not going to do,” said Cooper. read more here....

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