repost January 2012; updates below
It’s really nice to know that somewhere someone actually sees what you see when it comes to violations of the US Constitution. Signing Statements are a violation of the US Constitution. The President has two choices if he doesn’t like legislation: veto it or sign it anyway and then let the chips fall where they may. There is no line-item veto in our Constitution and that in effect a signing statement usurps the power of the Congress. Here is the recent letter by the President of the American Bar Association to the White House about signing statements:
December 30, 2011
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
During your predecessor’s administration, the American Bar Association adopted a policy opposing,“as contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers,” any President’s use of signing statements issued with the stated intention “to disregard or decline to enforce all or part of a law the President has signed.” Although during your 2008 Presidential campaign you said you would not use signing statements “as a way to do an end run around Congress,” your statement accompanying your signing last week of the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2012 is reported to
be the nearly 20th such signing statement you have made since taking office.
While we acknowledge that the use of Presidential signing statements dates back to the early 19th century, we must again voice the ABA’s policy opposing this practice. Where a signing statement is used to nullify a provision of law, the President is effectively usurping the power of the legislative branch by denying Congress the opportunity to override a veto of that law and may be abrogating the power of the judicial branch to make a determination of constitutionality.
Clearly, the original intent of the Framers of the Constitution was to give the President the choice of signing or vetoing a bill presented by the Congress – in its entirety. The Constitution does not contemplate or accommodate a line-item veto, yet that is precisely the effect of a signing statement announcing the President’s intent to disregard, for any reason (constitutional or policy), a provision of the legislation that he is signing into law.
We recognize that Congress may insert what the President considers objectionable language into omnibus, must-pass legislation, where a veto could disrupt the operation of government. However, the ABA’s commitment to the constitutional principles of “separation of powers” and “checks and balances” leads us to reassert respectfully that a veto, and not a signing statement, is the constitutionally appropriate avenue for any and every President to respond to an
So why is the legal opinion of the ABA so important at this point? Apart from the fact that it is the only national representation of American lawyers, it has been castigated as a leftist/progressive shill organization and a cynic could assume that the ABA would just rubberstamp anything a leftist/progressive President would promote. Many even claim that the ABA gives high ratings to potential judges, who have no business sitting on the bench, merely because these individuals support the democratic party platform and liberal view of the Constitution.
Perhaps some of the ABA’s detractors should reconsider. It seems to me that as John Adams once said…”I am for the law” is still the watch word of the national bar. If one of the largest organizations of attorneys nation-wide tells the President of the United States you are in violation of the US Constitution, someone in the White House really should pay attention, no matter what the liberal think-tank-yes-persons have to say.
I suppose the same could be said for recess appointments when the Congress is not in actual recess too…the word unconstitutional comes to mind. Someone needs to remind the Obama administration that Alexander Hamilton’s version of an imperial presidency was resoundingly rejected by the adoption of a small document called the US Constitution. In fact I recommend they read those pesky writings called The Federalist Papers if they truly need to understand what the authors of the Constitution were thinking and why. Just a little snarky suggestion…..
On the other hand, when Obama is afraid to actually take a stand on issues, he conveniently pushes it off to others rather than using an executive order or signing statement as he did when he dragged our nation into war like he did in Libya:
Or when he has failed abysmally (which is the norm for his administration) he tries to blame others for his failures:
Now about those Obama-recess-appointments, that occurred not during an actual Congressional recess:
For more on Presidential Signing Statements go HERE, to The American Presidency Project. They not only explain in detail the history of signing statements, but provide the reader with all statements from Hoover to Obama.