The Boston Globe has an interesting article today that talks about the American Bar Association’s recent decision to investigate Bush’s signing power:
The board of governors of the American Bar Association voted unanimously yesterday to investigate whether President Bush has exceeded his constitutional authority in reserving the right to ignore more than 750 laws that have been enacted since he took office.
Meeting in New Orleans, the board of governors for the world’s largest association of legal professionals approved the creation of an all-star legal panel with a number of members from both political parties.
They include a former federal appeals court chief judge, a former FBI director, and several prominent scholars — to evaluate Bush’s assertions that he has the power to ignore laws that conflict with his interpretation of the Constitution
It should amaze and scare any American that believes the President has this kind of power. This is a pure attack on the power of checks and balances and it is no wonder that Bush has never vetoed a bill since he became President. Instead, Bush just rewrites the laws as he see’s fit instead of doing his true constitutional power of veto or allowing them to be decided upon by the third level of checks and balances – the judicial branch.
This is not some partisan witch hunt either. Take a look at some of the people who are involved and agreed to this investigation:
William Sessions , a retired federal judge who was the director of the FBI under both Reagan and President George H.W. Bush , said he agreed to participate because he believed that the signing statements raise a “serious problem” for the American constitutional system.
“I think it’s very important for the people of the United States to have trust and reliance that the president is not going around the law,” Sessions said. “The importance of it speaks for itself.”
Another member, Patricia Wald, is a retired chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, appointed by President Carter.
She said she had monitored the use of signing statements by previous administrations, but “the accelerated use in recent years presents a real question about separation of powers and checks and balances.”
Wald also said she was especially interested in studying how signing statements affect the federal bureaucracy. As a judge, Wald said, she dealt with many cases involving challenges to decisions made by administrative agencies. She said that courts are deferential to such decisions because they are supposed to be made by objective specialists in the agencies. But a heavy use of signing statements could call that assumption into question.
This is not about Republican or Democrat nor is it about Liberal or Conservative – it is the Constitution and what makes our nation. Bush swore to uphold that Constitution when he took his oath of office and instead he has ignored and shredded it. These are enormous abuses of power and should be dealt with in the strictest of manner. It is time to restore the American faith in our system of government and remove and prosecute those that ignore it so blatantly.