In Defense of Presidential Signing Statements
Debating the Presidency: Conflicting Perspectives on the American Executive, Richard J. Ellis & Michael Nelson eds., CQ Press, 4th ed, Forthcoming
12 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2016
Date Written: February 10, 2016
This short essay defends the use of presidential signing statements against a misguided attack by an ABA report, which was signed by a number of prominent academics and leaders of the bar. Posing as a champion of the rule of law and the will of Congress, the ABA hysterically objected to George W. Bush’s statements about his constitutional authority without evidence that his views led his administration to refuse compliance with any statutes. President Obama has continued to issue signing statements, often indistinguishable from those issued by President Bush. More significantly, he has frequently engaged in actual defiance of the will of Congress. The ABA, however, has not denounced Obama a threat to the rule of law and the separation of powers, which confirms that its denunciation of signing statements was really just a politically motivated canard.
Keywords: American Bar Association, Congress, constitutional interpretation, Department of Justice, rule of law, political self-restraint, presidential veto, presentment clause, separation of powers, signing statement, Supreme Court, take care clause, U.S. Constitution
JEL Classification: K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation