Seems even the lawyers are getting in on the act of bashing President Bush and his habit of using signing statements to detail which parts of new laws he feels he can just ignore if he wants to. The American Bar Association slammed Bush on Sunday saying the signing statements undermine the Constitution and the separation of powers:
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.
In signing a statutory ban on torture and other national security laws, Mr. Bush reserved the right to disregard them.
The bar association panel said the use of signing statements in this way was “contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers.” From the dawn of the Republic, it said, presidents have generally understood that, in the words of George Washington, a president “must approve all the parts of a bill, or reject it in toto.”
Not that Bush is the first to undertake this practice, but he’s abused it to a degree that puts past presidents to shame and sets up dangerous precedents for future Administrations. The ABA is recommending that Congress pass a law requiring the president to “set forth in full the reasons and legal basis” any signing statement he makes that claims the right to disregard or decline enforcement. They’re also recommending that signing statements be subject to judicial review. Preferably both options will be made realities, but at the very least the former option should be made law.