EDITORIAL POLICY SOURCES
Typographical, grammatical, and textual errors in the HTML documents copied from the White House website have been reproduced exactly; no editorial corrections have been made. All materials in brackets - [ ] - have been added by the editor of this website or the Government Printing Office (GPO), not by the White House. The origin of all comments or notes - from the GPO or the editor of this website - is clearly identified.
In all instances in which text and headings appear to be missing, they were missing from the White House website. If the GPO provided the missing text, it was added here with a bracketed note stating that the text came from the GPO.
Numbering of Signing Statements
Unlike Executive Orders and Proclamations, presidential signing statements were not numbered or indexed on the White House website during the Bush administration. Nor were they grouped or labeled in a way that they could be easily accessed or identified. For this reason, I created a numbering scheme for the signing statements, as follows:
The first four numbers indicate the year in which the signing statement was issued. The last two numbers indicate the chronological order of issuance. Thus, 2004-17 is the 17th signing statement issued in 2004. These numbers are not official and are not provided by the White House or any government entity or publisher. They are used to organize this website.
Selection of Documents
Only documents that the GPO's Office of the Federal Register (OFR) has expressly identified as bill signing statements in the Daily or Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents are included. Statements by the President commenting on, commending, applauding, or encouraging actions by Congress, or either chamber of it, are not included. Executive Orders and Proclamations are not included, as they are distinct presidential documents with clearly defined legal import. Presidential remarks and speeches, and statements by the White House Press Secretary or other officials, are not included.
However, when documents such as presidential speeches, remarks, Executive Orders, or Statements of Administration Policy help elucidate a signing statement, those documents are presented on this website in the annotations to the signing statements.
Please note that bill signing remarks are frequently mistaken for signing statements. Bill signing remarks are distinctly classified as such by the OFR; they are not signing statements. However, there is usually a one- or two-week lag between White House publication and OFR publication of bill signing remarks and signing statements. When the White House has not clearly designated a document as a signing statement, this can cause confusion, even among scholars. When this happens, I call the White House Press Office and OFR for clarification.
Laws Subjected to Signing Statements
The final official iteration of a law, after signature by the president, is the GPO's Private and Public Laws. After the president signs a law, it may take the GPO several weeks to issue the official print of the public law; for very lengthy bills, the delay between signature and GPO publication can be several months.
Until the GPO publishes the final public law, I provide a link to the GPO print of the enrolled bill as agreed to or passed by both the House and the Senate.
When the GPO makes the public law available, I remove the GPO's enrolled text, post the GPO's PDF of the final public law here, and provide a live link to the plain text of the same document on the GPO website.
For all documents other than signing statements and public laws, I note the source from which I obtained the document and the date of its issuance. Whenever possible, I provide a live link to the original source. However, some of these links have expired; some documents are no longer available from their original source.
Until early 2009, signing statements appeared in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (WCPD), issued by the GPO. I have provided WCPD citations in this format:
<Volume #> WCPD <page number> (<issue date>).
Example: 42 WCPD 425 (March 13, 2006)
Beginning January 20, 2009, the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents supplanted the Weekly Compilation. I am using the citation format suggested by the Office of the Federal Register for the Daily Compilation:
Daily Comp. Pres. Docs., 2009 DCPD No. 00001, p.3
Sources are checked daily. The website was last updated at 8:06 a.m. (Eastern) on December 4, 2013.
This website provides the full text of each presidential signing statement from four sources:
(1) it sets out (and fixes) the full text of each signing statement that is published on the White House website;
(2) for the current administration, it provides a live link to the same statement at the White House website;*
(3) it provides a link to the text version of the same statement when it is published in the Government Printing Office's (GPO's) online version of the Daily or Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (DCPD or WCPD); and
(4) it provides PDF files of the statements, downloaded from the GPO's online DCPD or WCPD and stored on this website.
Multiple-sourcing is provided for two reasons. First, it helps readers verify the text of the signing statements. Second, the exact number of statements became controversial during the administration of George W. Bush. Providing signing statements from all available official sources helped end that controversy.
* Note: All live links to the White House website for the Bush administration expired on January 21, 2009. However, between 2006 and 2008, I copied the text of the signing statements directly from the White House website as posted by the Bush administration. Thus, the White House text of the Bush signing statements is still available here, but I have removed the links that expired on January 21. I will continue to provide live links to the current White House website during the Obama administration.
Text of Laws Subjected to Signing Statements
Laypersons often find it difficult to locate authoritative text of the laws subjected to signing statements, and this can make it difficult to understand the signing statements. Thus, this website provides the full official text of every Congressional enactment subjected to a signing statement.
For instance, when signing H.R. 1815 (the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006"), President Bush's signing statement provided, in part:
"A number of provisions of the Act, including sections 905, 932, 1004, 1212, 1224, 1227, and 1304, call for the executive branch to furnish information to the Congress on various subjects. The executive branch 6hall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties." (emphasis added)
It's not possible to understand this statement without seeing the text of §§ 905, 932, 1004, 1212, 1224, 1227, and 1304 of the Act. One can discern that President Bush reserved the right to withhold information that Congress required the executive branch to furnish. However, to see exactly what information Congress required, one must read the Act. Therefore, this website provides links to the full text of every Congressional enactment that is the subject of a signing statement.
Readers may view these laws in PDF or plain text format by using the annotations to signing statements. Both the plain text and the PDF versions of the laws are from the GPO's Private and Public Laws website. The plain text links take the reader directly to files residing on the GPO website. The PDF links take the reader to documents residing on this website; however all such files were downloaded -- without change -- directly from the GPO.
Authentication of GPO Documents
Hundreds of the documents on this website, including signing statements and the laws to which they apply, have been downloaded directly from the Government Printing Office (GPO) website, GPO Access. The GPO has expanded implementation of its document authentication initiative, which applies "digital signatures to certain electronic documents on GPO Access that not only establish GPO as the trusted information disseminator, but also provide the assurance that an electronic document has not been altered since GPO disseminated it."
Since my mission is provide official text of the signing statements and the laws to which they apply, the GPO authentication initiative is a most welcome improvement.
Beginning with the 110th Congress, the GPO began to provide digitally-signed PDF documents for the public laws. However, please be aware that the GPO has not yet implemented digital signatures for the Weekly or Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents.
The main purpose of this website is to provide verifiable, official text of the signing statements and the laws to which they apply. However, when I discover information that elucidates signing statements or provides noteworthy responses to signing statements, I add this information to the annotations.
The annotations provide Congressional responses to particular signing statements, including formal Congressional oversight (such as hearings), letters from individual members of Congress to the president, and Congressional press releases. The annotations also present reports from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The annotations also include documents from the executive branch that help shed light on signing statements, such as Statements of Administration Policy, agency documents, press releases, comments by administration officials, Executive Orders, and memoranda.
The annotations also include court opinions relating to particular signing statements, signing statements in general, and the "unitary executive" theory.
Finally, the annotations include writings, articles, and commentaries about signing statements and the "unitary executive" theory from individuals and organizations such as the United Nations, the American Bar Association, legal scholars, political scientists, reporters, public interest groups, and others.
I have added a site-specific search box to this website but am still testing it. If you are dissatisified with the results of the new search feature, here's a fall-back approach to searching the contents of this website:
(1) Open a new window or tab in your browser, and go to Google's main search page;
(2) In the Google search box, type this:
(3) After this phrase, in the same search box, enter one space and add your search terms.
Example, with search terms highlighted:
site:www.coherentbabble.com defense appropriations
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My name is Joyce Green. I have a BA in Political Science and an AB in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Juris Doctor from the University of Richmond. I've been licensed to practice law since 1988. I maintain active licenses to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of Oklahoma.
I first posted this website in May of 2006, when the media was just beginning to report about signing statements and scholarly writing about the statements was relatively scarce. I built the website for two reasons: (1) to provide free, convenient public access to the signing statements; and (2) to provide an objective, nonpartisan, and reliable research tool for reporters, scholars, lawyers, and anyone who is interested in signing statements. My purpose is not to guide opinion about signing statements, but to equip members of the public to explore the topic and form their own opinions.
The legal and political issues raised by signing statements are not partisan issues. Rather, they affect the presidency itself, regardless of who occupies the post. They affect the balance of power and rule of law in American government and, thus, the functioning of democracy itself.
Therefore, on the links page, I collect all points of view that I can, across the political spectrum.
The law library at Pace University Law School in New York is now mirroring this site, with my permission. Like this website, the mirror site at Pace provides the signing statements and annotations to the general public at no charge. I am giving this website, and exclusive rights to the compilation, to Pace Law School. Pace will eventually take over the materials and this website will disappear. I will give notice before this happens, so that you can reset your bookmarks.
Please do not hesitate to report problems with this website or make suggestions to improve it. I try to answer all email that I receive.
All media inquiries should be directed to this address.