The Stealth Veto

The New York Times reported this morning that the American Bar Association is issuing a report strongly denouncing the current president’s practice of issuing “signing statements” after putting his signature on bills passed by Congress.

In a comprehensive report, a bipartisan 11-member panel of the bar association said Mr. Bush had used such “signing statements” far more than his predecessors, raising constitutional objections to more than 800 provisions in more than 100 laws on the ground that they infringed on his prerogatives.

These broad assertions of presidential power amount to a “line-item veto” and improperly deprive Congress of the opportunity to override the veto, the panel said.

The issue now being revealed has to do with the linkage between the proliferation of these signing statements (more than 800 so far) and the paucity of vetoes (one) in the Bush presidency. It’s very simple: If the president doesn’t veto a bill, Congress has no way, short of impeachment on grounds of violation of the “faithfully execute” clause, to directly address his refusal to comply with portions of it.

And since Congress wouldn’t give him the line-item veto, he just went ahead and took it, on the sly. With no opportunity for Cogress to override. Sweet. When the King finally dissolves Parliament, will anyone even notice?

For further reading: Fellow blogger Tinsel Wing has provided a “top ten” list, first published early this month by the Boston Globe.


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