Sunday, June 04, 2006

ABA to investigate constitutionality of signing statements

(Can it be? Did I scoop Betsy on a story in her hometown Boston Globe?)

Bar group will review Bush's legal challenges

WASHINGTON -- The board of governors of the American Bar Association voted unanimously yesterday to investigate whether President Bush has exceeded his constitutional authority in reserving the right to ignore more than 750 laws that have been enacted since he took office....

"The American Bar Association feels a very serious obligation to ensure that when there are legal issues that affect the American people, the ABA adopts a policy regarding such issues and then speaks out about it," [ABA President Michael] Greco said. "In this instance, the president's practice of attaching signing statements to laws squarely presents a constitutional issue about the separation of powers among the three branches."

The signing statements task force, which was recruited by Greco, a longtime Boston lawyer who served on former Governor William F. Weld's Judicial Nominating Council, includes several Republicans. Among them are Mickey Edwards , a former Oklahoma representative from 1977 to 1993, and Bruce Fein , a Justice Department official under President Reagan...

William Sessions , a retired federal judge who was the director of the FBI under both Reagan and President George H.W. Bush , said he agreed to participate because he believed that the signing statements raise a "serious problem" for the American constitutional system....

Another member, Patricia Wald, is a retired chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, appointed by President Carter.

She said she had monitored the use of signing statements by previous administrations, but "the accelerated use in recent years presents a real question about separation of powers and checks and balances."

Wald also said she was especially interested in studying how signing statements affect the federal bureaucracy. As a judge, Wald said, she dealt with many cases involving challenges to decisions made by administrative agencies. She said that courts are deferential to such decisions because they are supposed to be made by objective specialists in the agencies. But a heavy use of signing statements could call that assumption into question.

Read the whole story here.


Betsy McKenzie said...

Rats, Jim! I waited too long to blog today. Good for you. Are you still in Croatia?

Marie S. Newman said...

Bush always bashes gay marriage when he's running on empty. He's got to placate his base, and every indication is that the election season this year is starting earlier than ever, i.e., now. I'm convinced that most people in this country couldn't care less about gay marriage, but Bush has got to make sure that the ones who do will get out and vote. He's unspeakable.