Carney: Obama Was For Signing Statements Before He Was Against Them

Jay Carney says President Obama was never against signing statements, just when President Bush “abused” them. In the press conference, Jay Carney seems to morph with John Kerry, who believed he had found safe political ground by noting that he voted for something before voting against it. For his part, Obama morphed into George W. Bush a while back on civil liberties and constitutional issues.

As on so many issues of civil liberties and constitutional law, Obama appears determined to legitimate and expand on the Bush policies. There appears to be little concern over the direct conflicts in his positions in running for the office and his positions as president. The White House is now relying almost entirely on a cult of personality for liberals to ignore that fact that Obama now stands against many of the defining liberal and libertarian principles.

Carney was confronted over the Bush-like refusal of Obama to comply with federal law and to use signing statements. His response is truly Kerryesque:

“His concern was with what he saw as an abuse of the signing statement by the previous administration. So that the positions he took in signing statements on the budget bill entirely consistent with that position, you need to retain the right to, as president, to be able to issue those signing statements, but obviously they should not be abused.”

Here is what he said when running for this office in 2008:

“That’s not part of his power, but this is part of the whole theory of George Bush that he can make laws as he goes along. I disagree with that. I taught the Constitution for 10 years. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress,” then-Senator Obama said as a presidential candidate in 2008.

Carney’s statement is, however consistent with the White House approach in other areas. Obama has continued many of the policies of Bush in blocking the investigation of torture, fighting public interest lawsuits on privacy etc. The single consistent position appears to be “I am Barack Obama so it is better when I do it.” What is remarkable is that many Democrats appear to agree from their silence. Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer have even publicly praised Obama for his undeclared war in Libya. After all, it is Barack Obama and he was against undeclared wars before he was for them.

Source: RealClearPolitics

Jonathan Turley

69 thoughts on “Carney: Obama Was For Signing Statements Before He Was Against Them”

  1. Guilty until proven innocent is the standard for so called “vexatious litigants” and it is basically assumed for most middle class people in America these days who are criminally charged or for whom a petition for a restraining order is filed.

  2. Swarthmore mom
    1, April 19, 2011 at 7:49 pm
    Looks like Obama felt the pressure from his former professor, Lawrence Tribe, with regards to Manning.


    One would hope so but Leavenworth ain’t no country-club prison …

    I’ve been told that “Despite the theory that you are “innocent until proven guilty,” the reality of a military court martial is that a Solider, Sailor, Airmen or Marine is often guilty until proven innocent.” Is it true that the burden in on the defendant to prove his innocence rather than on the prosecution to prove his guilt?

  3. Looks like Obama felt the pressure from his former professor, Lawrence Tribe, with regards to Manning.

  4. I did my homework and now await Mike A.’s opinion. In particular, I paid close attention to the Conclusion (CRS 30) but would highly recommend that the entire paper be read for the interesting facts contained therein.

    The term “unitariness” in this context was new to me and in searching for other references I happened upon this link which deals with the following:
    Unitariness and Myopia: The Executive Branch, Legal Process and Torture (Cornelia T. Pillard, Georgetown University Law Center)

    … which many of you may find interesting and apropos to the present discussion“unitariness”

  5. Way off topic:

    WikiLeaks Suspect Being Moved Out of Quantico
    Published: April 19, 2011 at 7:03 PM ET

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pentagon official says the Army private suspected of giving classified data to WikiLeaks is being moved to a state-of-the-art facility at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. But the Pentagon’s general counsel says this does not suggest that the soldier’s treatment of the soldier at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., was inappropriate.

    Jeh Johnson said Tuesday that Army Pfc. Bradley Manning will be moved in the very near future to the medium security facility at Leavenworth. He says Manning can be moved now because his interview in the Washington region to determine his competency to stand trial has been completed.

  6. REVEALED: Boehner’s High-Priced Lawyer Is Charging the American Taxpayer $520 Per Hour
    April 19th, 2011 at 1:00 PM
    Think Progress

    ThinkProgress has obtained a copy of the contract House Republicans signed with Paul Clement, a former Solicitor General who earns $5 million a year, to defend the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. Although Clement’s firm is charging less than the $900 an hour they typically bill for their top attorneys’ work, Clement will still leave the American people with a massive legal bill:

    2. The General Counsel agrees to pay Contractor for all contractual services a sum not to exceed $500,000.00. … Furthermore, it is understood and agreed that should the $500,000 cap be reached before the Litigation is complete, and if the cap has not then been raised by written agreement…contractor shall not be obligated to continue providing legal services under this Agreement.

    3. The General Counsel agress to pay Contractor at a blended rate of $520.00 per hour for all reasonable attorney time expended in connection with the Litigation, and at 75 percent of the Contractor’s usual and customary rates for all reasonable non-attorney time…and to reimburse Contractor for all reasonable expenses incurred by the Contractor in connection with the Litigation[.]

    The House GOP’s decision to stand by this unconstitutional assault on gay families is indefensible, and it is made all the worse by their fiscally reckless decision to hire one of the most expensive lawyers in America. Indeed, it wasn’t even necessary for the Republicans to hire a law firm at all to represent their anti-gay position. The U.S. House’s Office of General Counsel already employs a team of exceptionally competent lawyers who are all perfectly capable of drafting and filing a legal brief, and none of these lawyers earn more than a fraction of Clement’s multi-million dollar salary.

    In a few months, the debt ceiling will need to be raised, and House Republicans will whine over and over again about how the United States is spending too much money. If they really care one bit about fiscal responsibility, they should show it by firing Paul Clement.

  7. Wow … the link Mike A. provided to pbs was very educational … “until Ronald Reagan that signing statements began to become much more frequent, and more influential. ” Figures it was Reagan but what about “with the help of young Justice Department Lawyer, Samuel Alito”.

    If this issue were to make it to the Supreme Court, wouldn’t Alito have to recuse himself?

    If it is an impeachable offense and Obama finds himself facing that situation … too bad … he was the last one caught holding the ball.

    Now it’s on to Elaine’s link. I don’t mind her homework assignments … there are usually 2 to 3 a week and one does learn.

  8. rafflaw,

    I’m writing up multiple choice questions for you and Mike. Be prepared for a little quiz tomorrow morning!


  9. Mike A.,

    As Buddha so often says–I live to be of service. I’ll let you read all of that report. You’re the lawyer. I’m just a little ole retired schoolmarm.


  10. Gee, thanks, Elaine. I cited a handy fluff piece and you responded with a 33 page, single-spaced academic analysis which I now feel compelled to read in its entirety. 🙂

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