Obama Issues Signing Statement — Only Days After Negating Such Bush Statements

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obama225px-george-w-bushLiterally days after proclaiming that change had come to “signing statements” with a new policy, President Obama has issued a very Bush-like signing statement with his signing of the appropriations bill. The signing statement reserves the right to treat literally dozens of provisions as presumptively unconstitutional.

This week, Obama ordered his government to ignore provision-bypassing signing statements and signaling that he would not continue Bush’s highly controversial use of the power. In fairness, Obama did not promise to forego the use of such signing statement but said that he would use “with caution and restraint, based only on interpretations of the Constitution that are well founded.” That statement appeared in anticipation of his objections to the spending bill.

The provisions that Obama rejected dealt with such things as a provision barring the expenditure of money on any United Nations peacekeeping missions where United States troops are put under a foreign commander unless Mr. Obama’s military advisers so recommend.

That particular provision is troubling to me as a constitutional matter. The Framers expressly gave Congress the power of the purse as a check and balance on executive authority. The use of appropriations to restrict “foreign entanglements” and “adventures” was well-accepted. This has a true Bush-like quality as a signing statement.

Obama should simply disavow all signing statements, at least those that seek to alter the meaning or refuse to comply with provisions. The American Bar Association and many academics have encouraged Obama to take such a principled stand.

For the full story, here.After

30 thoughts on “Obama Issues Signing Statement — Only Days After Negating Such Bush Statements”

  1. While we are all watching the President, I submit this as cautionary that we should also be watching corporate actors to make sure they are not trying to improperly influence the system and judges who seem to value corporations over natural persons. The case in this article is capital D Dangerous to libel laws and the media’s ability to report truthfully although not presented in a media context. It deserves to be monitored as well.


  2. From John W. Dean’s column in FindLaw (2006)regarding signing statements, which also includes a good overview of their use/misuse:

    {Quote: “This kind of expansive use of a signing statement presents not only Presentment Clause problems, but also clashes with the Constitutional implication that a veto is the President’s only and exclusive avenue to prevent a bill’s becoming law. The powers of foot-dragging and resistance-by-signing-statement, are not mentioned in the Constitution alongside the veto…” End Quote}


  3. …”the most significant problem with the Bush signing statements, as well as with other failures to enforce preexisting statutes—namely, that the substance of many of this President’s constitutional objections is wrong and threatens to dangerously expand the powers of the President in a manner that fails to respect the checks and balances of our constitutional system.”



    I am confused by your post. Mike A. said:

    “My own view is that signing statements are never appropriate because they violate the separation of powers doctrine, regardless of the rationale in any particular instance.” This would seem a direct contradiction to what you said. So I wasn’t certain why you said you agreed with him.

  4. Y’all know that there is a “country” song about every aspect of life. George W. Bush sings his song explaining his favorite topic that Rove & Cheney told him about called

    Signing Statements:

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