Presidential Signing Statements and Executive Power

51 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2006

See all articles by Curtis Bradley

Curtis Bradley

Duke University School of Law

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: July 2006


A recent debate about the Bush administration's use of presidential signing statements has raised questions about their function, legality, and value. We argue that presidential signing statements are legal and that they provide a useful way for the president to disclose his views about the meaning and constitutionality of legislation. Although President Bush has challenged more statutory provisions in signing statements than prior administrations have, his signing statements are similar in many respects to the signing statements issued by prior presidents, such as President Clinton. In addition, basic tenets of positive political theory suggest that signing statements do not undermine the separation of powers or the legislative process and that, under certain circumstances, they can provide relevant evidence of statutory meaning.

Suggested Citation

Bradley, Curtis and Posner, Eric A., Presidential Signing Statements and Executive Power (July 2006). U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 133; Duke Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 121. Available at SSRN: or

Curtis Bradley

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Eric A. Posner (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0425 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)


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