News About Signing Statements
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On 14 October 2008, the White House released two signing statements on Tuesday, October 14.
The signing statement for H.R. 928, the "Inspector General Reform Act of 2008," is available here.
The signing statement for S. 3001, the "Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009," is available here.
8 October 2008: The White House released President Bush's signing statement for HR 7081, the ‘‘United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act.’’
Several reports have indicated that President Bush may issue a signing statement when he signs HR 7081, the ‘‘United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act,’’ which passed both houses of Congress last week.
The Washington Post reports that a "senior Indian official" claims that President Bush has promised a signing statement to address India's concerns about fuel supplies from the US if India conducts a nuclear test.
In a State Department report of remarks by Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, a reporter asked Secretary Rice whether President Bush would address India's concerns in a signing statement. Secretary Rice neither denied nor confirmed that a signing statement will be issued, but promised that India's concerns would be addressed. Indian news sources directly claim that India expects a signing statement from President Bush. NDTV note with video: "India expects that Bush's signing statement will say that 123 Agreement is only framework of reference and also believes that the statement will provide legal validity to the agreement."
Secretary Rice states that last week's delays in signing the nuclear trade pact with India are attributable to Congress's efforts to address the national financial crisis.
Here are the New York Times articles on Senate and House passage of HR 7081. The text of HR 7081, as enrolled and agreed to by the House and Senate and provided by the Governent Printing Office, is available here.
30 September 2008: The White House released President Bush's signing statement for H.R. 2638, the "Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009."
The CRS addresses signing statements in the context of statutory interpretation in its report, Statutory Interpretation: General Principles and Recent Trends (Order Code 97-589) (updated August 31, 2008) (source: Open CRS). The discussion of signing statements, which begins on page 48, opens with this summary:
Judicial reliance on presidential signing statements to interpret statutes poses problems above and beyond those presented by reliance on legislative materials, and there is no consensus as to whether courts should rely at all on signing statements.
20 August 2008: The House Armed Services Committee has released a four-page report entitled "Findings of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in Support of the Full Committee re: Presidential Signing Statements." The report is available at the Committee website, the website of the Federation of American Scientists, or this website.
On 25 July 2008, the House Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing on "Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations." Signing statements were among many issues addressed during the hearing. A list of witnesses and their prepared statements are available here. Streaming video (in Real Audio format) of the hearing is available at C-SPAN.
The hearing included HR 1258, the article of impeachment introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) in June, 2008. However, the hearing did not provide for a possibility of a vote on HR 1258. Rep. Kucinich discussed his article of impeachment against President Bush and the Committee hearing on C-SPAN.
Several witnessses addressed issues surrounding signing statements.
June 9, 2008: House Member Dennis Kucinich introduced a resolution (HR 1258) containing 35 articles of impeachment of President George W. Bush. Article XXVI is entitled " Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements, and Violating Those Laws." The full text is available at Rep. Kucinich's website. On June 11, the measure was referred to committee.
On May 8, 2008, Representative Walter B. Jones (R-NC) introduced H.R. 5993, the Presidential Signing Statements Act, the stated purpose of which is to "promote congressional and public awareness, understanding, and political accountability of Presidential signing statements." Representative Jones's press release of May 12 is available here. The GPO print of the bill, as introduced, is available here.
The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law held a "Hearing on the Rulemaking Process and the Unitary Executive Theory." Witness statements and a webcast of the hearing are available here.
The Washington Post reports that a 2003 memo written by John Yoo, then Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) of the Department of Justice (DOJ), was declassified and made public in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The memo, rescinded nine months after it was issued, sets forth a legal exposition of the theory of the unitary executive, asserting that the president has "complete authority over the conduct of war" and "plenary control over diplomatic relations." Yoo argues that criminal laws do not apply to interrogations undertaken by the executive branch under the president's commander-in-chief powers and the president's "inherent constitutional authority to direct a military campaign against" terrorists and their allies. The memo also cites a still-unreleased DOJ OLC memo for the proposition that the 4th Amendment does not apply to military operations within the borders of the United States.
In 2006, John Yoo explained his conception of the appropriate constitutional balance of power in an OpEd in the New York Times.
Clinton: Marcella Bombardieri, Boston Globe: Clinton vows to check executive power, would curb use of signing statements (October 11, 2007)
McCain: Charlie Savage and James W. Pindell , Boston Globe: A tactic of Bush's on bills is assailed, McCain, others hit signing statements (November 20, 2007)
Obama: Charlie Savage, Boston Globe: Barack Obama's Q&A (includes this question: Under what circumstances, if any, would you sign a bill into law but also issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass the law?) (December 20, 2007)
Forty-eight candidates for the United States House of Representatives and four candidates for the Senate have endorsed a document entitled “A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.” The Executive Summary of the document contains a section entitled “Restoring Our Constitution,” which states:
Balance must be restored between the executive and the judicial branch (for instance through the restoration of habeas corpus), between the executive and the legislative branch (for instance through clarifying that the President does not have the Constitutional authority to unilaterally alter legislation through signing statements), and between the executive and the people of the United States (for instance by clarifying that the Fourth Amendment requires probable cause and a warrant for the government to spy on Americans).
(emphasis added). The full document is available at this website.
March 11, 2008: The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee met to hear testimony on the impact of the Presidential signing statement on the Department of Defense’s implementation of the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. Information and a witness list are available at the Committee’s website. Witness statements and transcripts are available here.
The White House Press Secretary released President Bush's veto message for H.R. 2082, the "Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008."
February 8, 2008: The House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Barney Frank (D-Mass), held a hearing on the "Negative Implications of the President’s Signing Statement on the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act" on Friday, February 8, 2008. Witness statements, letters concerning the Bush administration's refusal to testify, and an archived webcast of the hearing are available at the Committee's website.
On January 31, 2008, the John Birch Society published a news item by its president, John F. McManus, denouncing President Bush's use of signing statements as "kingly" and "totally unconstitutional."
On January 28, 2008, the White House released a signing statement for H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.
It is the first issued by the White House in 2008.