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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Law - Obama's signing statements vs. Bush's

The ILB had a number of posts on presidential signing statements a few years back, including this one from July 24, 2006, headed "Law - Bar Task Force finds presidential signing statements undermine separation of powers."

Today the Washington Post has a story by Karen Tumulty, headed "Obama circumvents laws with ‘signing statements,’ a tool he promised to use lightly." It begins:

Back when Barack Obama was a presidential candidate who boasted his background as a professor of constitutional law, he frequently criticized President George W. Bush for what Obama said was a “clear abuse” of executive power.

As president, Obama is being accused of doing the same, albeit not as frequently.

The issue at hand is his use of “signing statements,” official pronouncements in which a president offers his interpretation of legislation that he is signing — and in the modern era, sometimes announces that he feels free to disregard it.

While Obama has not issued as many signing statements as Bush did, many say he employs them in much the same manner.

“The difference is really with volume, not in kind,” said Kevin Evans, a Florida International University professor who has researched the practice of presidential signing statements. “Senator Obama had a very different view than President Obama.”

The story goes on to detail the law Obama signed requiring:
...that the defense secretary must notify relevant congressional committees at least 30 days before transferring anyone from Guantanamo Bay and provide assurances that those released would not be in a position to again threaten the United States or its interests.
And the signing statement he issued at the time:
In the signing statement with the law, Obama declared that he thought the requirement was potentially unconstitutional.

“The executive branch must have the flexibility, among other things, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers,” Obama said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 3, 2014 08:57 AM
Posted to General Law Related