Monday, June 05, 2006

Signing Statements Review

The American Bar Association, meeting in New Orleans over the weekend, decided to create a blue ribbon panel to review George W. Bush's superfluity of so-called "signing statements" which assert the president and his aides are not bound by laws passed by Congress.

The Jurist has some useful background links. Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe has the detailed low-down every other news report is feeding from this week.

Savage, inspired by the earlier work of Portland State University public administration professor Phillip Cooper (published in 2002), is the enterprising reporter who spent months last winter uncovering and analysing the details of every one of Bush's 750 signing statements, and then broke the superbly researched story in a 3,600 word article that shocked even congressmen and senators.

Most of them had no idea Bush was declaring the Executive branch exempt from the laws Congress passed. In many instances, Bush would sign the laws amid much pen-swapping hoopla in the Oval Office, but the moment his congressional buddies left the room he would sign a separate "signing statement" voiding the whole thing -- as applied to him.

A final report is expected at the A.B.A. House of Delegates meeting in August.

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