Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., was among the many GOP no-shows at an important Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday — on President Bush’s use of signing statements 750 times to flex his executive power and signal his disdain for all or parts of laws he has signed. Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., is so concerned about the practice that he’s thinking Congress might sue the president over the dismissive statements.
Meanwhile, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michelle Boardman argued that Bush has shown Congress respect by using the statements rather than vetoing whole bills. “Respect for the legislative branch, when we have a well-crafted bill, the majority of which is constitutional, is shown when the president chooses to construe a particular statement in keeping with the Constitution, as opposed to defeating an entire bill that would serve the nation,” she said.
So let’s use an example to see if we understand this correctly. Bush argues that Congress shouldn’t outlaw torture. Congress considers his arguments, rejects them, and overwhelmingly passes the ban. Bush holds a press conference and says he supports the ban. But then Bush quietly adds a signing statement saying he has the power to ignore the ban. This is respecting Congress?
As Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., noted during Tuesday’s hearing: “This administration has said, even with a rubber-stamp Republican Congress, they don’t care what we think. They’re going to decide what laws to follow and what laws to disobey, and . . . nobody up here will call them on it.”
Posted by Rhonda Holman
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