Monday, July 24, 2006

Group decries Bush's law interpretations - Yahoo! News

Group decries Bush's law interpretations - Yahoo! News:

President Bush's penchant for writing exceptions to laws he has just signed violates the Constitution, an American Bar Association task force says in a report highly critical of the practice.

The ABA group, which includes a one-time
FBI director and former federal appeals court judge, said the president has overstepped his authority in attaching challenges to hundreds of new laws.

The attachments, known as bill-signing statements, say Bush reserves a right to revise, interpret or disregard measures on national security and constitutional grounds.

'This report raises serious concerns crucial to the survival of our democracy,' said the ABA's president, Michael Greco. 'If left unchecked, the president's practice does grave harm to the separation of powers doctrine, and the system of checks and balances that have sustained our democracy for more than two centuries.'"
Tony Snow and the Apologists are suggesting that the President's concerns are purely constitutional. While I agree that Congress has shown less and less regard for the Constitution over the last decade or so, with it's asset forfeiture laws and various attempts to censor, filter and dumb down the Internet and media in general, I have seen no concern on his part, or his predecessors about the constitutionality of laws that affect my rights.

Limits on the President's "Unitary Executive" presumption seem to be an exception to his rule. But he's unwilling to have that presumption challenged, so he doesn't do what a real president would do, use his veto. Instead, he uses signing statements that state that he will ignore yet another law.

This is quite different from issuing a statement that states the executive's understanding of how a law might be constitutionally implemented as guidance to the Executive Branch as a whole.

The ABA report said President Reagan was the first to use the statements as a strategic weapon, and that it was encouraged by then-administration lawyer
Samuel Alito — now the newest Supreme Court justice.

The task force included former prosecutor Neal Sonnett of Miami; former FBI Director William Sessions; Patricia Wald, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; former Republican Rep. Mickey Edwards; and former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein; and law school professors and other lawyers.

I think I'm on pretty solid and central ground here when I say that it's time to revisit Sen. Fiengold's censure resolution.

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