Signing Statements as Bargaining Outcomes
Andrew B. Whitford
University of Georgia - Department of Public Administration and Policy
July 1, 2009
CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper
A number of recent studies have documented some of the reasons presidents issue signing statements (written pronouncements made by the president when signing a bill into law). I argue that signing statements help construct defenses – for example, for bureaucrats deciding how to implement a law, or for judges deciding whether a particular interpretation is consistent with the Constitution. I argue that presidents construct more detailed and complex defenses under certain conditions, including when his ideal point is distant from Congress. I test this hypothesis and others using data from the George W. Bush administration between 2001 and 2006. Both the number of objections applied to a given bill and their complexity increase when the president is distant from Congress. This result and others help explain when presidents use signing statements to construct defenses.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: signing statements, bargaining, presidency, law
JEL Classification: D72, D73working papers series
Date posted: July 2, 2009
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