Essential Reading About Signing Statements

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Congressional Hearings expand

Hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee Concerning Presidential Signing Statements (June 27, 2006)

Committee Member Statement

Senator Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member, Judiciary Committee, (June 27, 2006)

Testimony and Statements Given to the Full Committee        

Michelle E. Boardman, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, United States Department of Justice (June 27, 2006)

Bruce Fein, Partner, Fein & Fein (June 27, 2006)

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, Harvard Law School (June 27, 2006)

Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Associate Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center (June 27, 2006)

Christopher S. Yoo, Professor, Vanderbilt University Law School (June 27, 2006)

Prepared Statement

Senator Edward M. Kennedy (June 27, 2006)

Hearing of the House Judiciary Committee Concerning Presidential Signing Statements (January 31, 2007)

Index to member and witness statements

Hearing of the House Financial Services Committee: "Negative Implications of the President’s Signing Statement on the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act" (February 8, 2008)

Witness statements, letters concerning the Bush administration's decision not to testify, and archived web cast of the hearing

Hearing of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee on the impact of the Presidential signing statement on the Department of Defense’s implementation of the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (March 11, 2008)

Opening Statement of Subcommittee Chairman Vic Snyder

Audio File of Hearing (direct link to audio file)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Statement of T.J. Halstead, Legislative Attorney, American Law Division, Congressional Research Service

Statement of Gary L. Kepplinger, General Counsel, U.S. Government Accountability Office

Statement of Bruce Fein, Constitutional Attorney, Bruce Fein & Associates, Member, ABA Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements

Statement of Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Associate Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center



Individual Members of Congress

White House and Department of Justice

Vice President Richard B. Cheney

Vice President's Remarks to the Traveling Press, Air Force Two (en route to Muscat, Oman) (December 20, 2005) (speaking about his view of the Constitutional powers of the Presidency)

Vice President's Remarks at the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize Luncheon Followed by Q&A (June 19, 2006) (including remarks about the "unitary executive" and reference to House Minority Report on Iran-Contra)

Samuel Alito (writing as a Department of Justice attorney)

Memorandum to the Department of Justice's Legal Strategy Working Group (Feb., 1986)     

John Dean (White House Counsel to President Richard Nixon)

The Problem with Presidential Signing Statements: Their Use and Misuse by the Bush Administration (Jan., 2006)

Vice President Cheney and The Fight Over "Inherent" Presidential Powers: His Attempt to Swing the Pendulum Back Began Long Before 9/11 (February 10, 2006)

United States Department of Justice

A Slip of the Pen: NYT OpEd by Walter Dellinger, Chapel Hill, NC  (July 31, 2006)

Presidential Authority to Decline to Execute Unconstitutional Statutes (November 2, 1994)

The Legal Significance of Presidential Signing Statements: Memorandum for Bernard M. Nussbaum, Counsel to the President (November 1993)

Legal Authorities Supporting the Activities of the National Security Agency Described by the President (January 2006)

Memorandum by John Yoo, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice, for William J. Haynes IT, General Counsel of the Department of Defense: Re: Military Interrogation of Alien Unlawful Combatants Held Outside the United States (March 13, 2003) (memo rescinded nine months after issuance, declassified March 31, 2008) (document source: website of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt))

Part one of the Yoo memo

Part two of the Yoo memo

Scholars and Attorneys

William S. Sessions (Member of the ABA Task Force on Signing Statements)

Comment: Congress fails to rein in Bush (San Antonio Press: July 9, 2006)

Bruce Fein (Member of the ABA Task Force on Signing Statements)

Comment, Great usurpations (Washington Times: August 1, 2006)

Phillip Cooper, Ph.D. (Portland State University)

George W. Bush, Edgar Allen Poe, and the Use and Abuse of Presidential Signing Statements (Sept., 2005)

Neil Kinkopf, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Georgia State University College of Law)

Signing Statements and the President's Authority to Refuse to Enforce the Law (June 15, 2006)

Jack M. Balkin (Professor of Law, Yale University Law School)

President Bush: "It's Not Law Unless I Say So (And Even If I Said So)" (May, 2006)

Laurence Tribe (Professor of Law, Harvard Law School)

Larry Tribe on the ABA Signing Statements Report (August 6, 2006)

Curtis Bradley (Duke Law School) and Eric Posner (University of Chicago Law School)

Presidential Signing Statements and Executive Power (U. Chicago Working Paper) (July, 2006)

Richard Epstein, University of Chicago Law School

The problem with presidential signing statements (July 16, 2006)

Executive Signing Statements (June 16, 2006)

Jennifer Van Bergen

The Unitary Executive: Is The Doctrine Behind the Bush Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State? (Jan., 2006)

Why the Bush Doctrine Violates the Constitution: The Unitary Executive (Jan., 2006)

Christopher Kelley, Ph.D., Political Scientist, University of Miami

A Comparative Look at the Constitutional Signing Statement The Case of Bush and Clinton (April, 2003)

The Unitary Executive and The Presidential Signing Statement (Doctoral Dissertation, 2003)
Rethinking Presidential Power -- The Unitary Executive and the George W. Bush Presidency (April, 2005)

Dawn E. Johnsen, Professor, Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington

Faithfully Executing the Laws: Internal Legal Constraints on Executive Power

Karl Manheim and Allan Ides

The Unitary Executive, Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2006-39 (September, 2006)

Robert V. Percival, Professor of Law, University of Maryland School of Law

Presidential Management of the Administrative State:  The Not-So-Unitary Executive, 51 Duke L. J. 963 (December 2001)


Public Radio and Public Television

Public Radio (audio reports) 

Daniel Schorr, Presidential Signing Statements and the Constitution, All Things Considered (February 15, 2008)

Terry Gross, Interview with Charlie Savage, In Pursuit of the Imperial President,  Fresh Air from WHYY (September 5, 2007)

Interview with Dahlia Lithwick, GAO Finds Signing Statements Influenced Law, Day to Day (June 20, 2007)

Diane Rehm, "Presidential Powers at a Time of War" (February 1, 2007) (some discussion of signing statements)

Brian Naylor, House Studies Impact of Bush 'Signing Statements,' Morning Edition (February 1, 2007)

Presidential Signing Statements and Separation of Powers, Dr. Christopher Kelley and Bruce Fein (WMUB's "Forum," August 25, 2006)

You can also listen the Forum program from this web site. These files are presented here with the generous and express permission of WMUB and the  Executive Producer of Forum. Many thanks to WMUB, a public affairs production of  NPR@88.5 FM.

Hear the entire show:     click here
(mp3 file -- 10.9 MB -- 46:49 minutes)  

Hear Part 1:                click here
(mp3 file --   2.9 MB -- 12:30 minutes)

Hear Part 2:                click here
(mp3 file --   2.4 MB -- 10:30 minutes)

Hear Part 3:                click here
(mp3 file --   2.3 MB --   9:49 minutes)

Hear Part 4:                click here
(mp3 file --   3.2 MB -- 14:00 minutes) 

Daniel Schorr, Why the Bar Would Rather Bush Use Vetoes, All Things Considered (July 26, 2006)

Limits of Executive Power, Law Professors Lawrence Tribe and Douglas Kmiec ("On Point," August 22, 2006)

Bush and the Presidential Signing Statement: Political Scientist Andy Rudalevige explores Presidential Signing Statements (NPR: Jan.8, 2006)

Expanding Executive Power Via Signing Statements (NPR: January, 2006)

Specter Challenges Presidential Signing Statements (NPR: June 28, 2006)

The Audacity of Government (This American Life, Episode 353, March 28, 2008)

Public Television

Frontline: Signing Statements

Frontline: Cheney's Law  (full program can be viewed online)

Frontline: Cheney In His Own Words: An overview of the vice president's views on presidential power and covert action that shows a remarkable consistency from the 1980s to today

Bill Moyers Journal: Presidential Signing Statements (July 2007)

News Organizations expand collapse


Boston Globe (Charlie Savage, winner of the Pultizer Prize for his coverage of signing statements) 

News Articles

Bush cites authority to bypass FEMA law: Signing statement is employed again (October 5, 2006)

Scalia's dissent gives 'signing statements' more heft (July 15, 2006)

Hearing set on signing statements: Senate panel will probe rationale for Bush actions (June 22, 2006)

Bar group will review Bush's legal challenges (June, 2006)

Cheney aide is screening legislation: Adviser seeks to protect Bush power (May, 2006)

Hearing vowed on Bush's powers: Senator [Arlen Specter] questions bypassing of laws (May, 2006)

Examples of the president's signing statements (April, 2006)

Bush challenges hundreds of laws: President cites powers of his office (April, 2006)


Radio interview with Rachel Maddow concerning some origins of the current expression of the unitary executive theory (July 4, 2006) (streaming audio, 7:44 minutes, mp3 format)

Radio Interview with Rachel Maddow, signing statements and the GAO report of 6/18/2007 (June 19, 2007) (streaming audio, 12:15 minutes, mp3 format)

 Radio Interview with Rachel Maddow, signing statements generally, and the signing statement for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (January 31, 2008) (streaming audio, 14:20 minutes, mp3 format)

Chicago Tribune 

Senate panel accuses Bush of diluting laws (June 26, 2006)

Dallas Morning News 

Bush not shy in asserting right to defy law (May, 2006)

Der Spiegel (Germany) 

Eavesdropping on America (May, 2006)

Forbes (AP's Laurie Kellerman) 

Bush Ignores Laws He Inks, Vexing Congress (June 27, 2006)

Fox News

Report by Megyn Kendall (June, 2006) (streaming video concerning Senate hearing concerning signing statements, available through Technorati, 1:05 minutes)

Jurist (University of Pennsylvania Law School) 

Specter presses Bush administration on domestic spying, signing statements (June 16, 2006)


Bush using a little-noticed strategy to alter the balance of power (Jan., 2006)

Monsters and Critics – UK 

American Bar Association to look at Bush exceptions to law (June 4, 2006)

MSNBC and Air America Radio

Rachel Maddow

Radio program (Air America Radio) devoted to separation of powers, the "unitary executive" and its authors and origins beginning with Dick Cheney and the Iran-Contra affair, including interviews with John Nichols (the Nation magazine) and Charlie Savage (Boston Globe) (July 4, 2006) (streaming audio, 49:39 minutes, mp3 format)

New York Times 

Michael Abramowitz, On Signing Statements, McCain Says 'Never,' Obama and Clinton 'Sometimes' (February 25, 2008)

Cheney Defends Eavesdropping Without Warrants (December 21, 2005)

New Yorker 

The Hidden Power: The legal mind behind the White House’s war on terror (July 3, 2006)

Cheney's Cheney (June 26, 2006)

Open Source, Chris Lydon (audio report)

Presidential Signing Statements (May, 2006)


Specter proposes challenge of Bush's power on laws (July 27, 2006)

San Francisco Chronicle 

Feinstein accuses Bush of abusing presidential power 'Signing statements' usurp authority of Congress, she says (May, 2006)

Time Magazine

Andrew Sullivan (Opinion Piece): "We Don't Need A New King George" (January 19, 2006)

U.S. News and World Report 

Cheney's Guy: Barely known outside Washington's corridors of power, David Addington is the most powerful man you've never heard of (May, 2006)

Wall Street Journal 

Court Pick Endorsed Theory of Far-Reaching Authority; Tenet of Bush White House (Jan., 2006)

Washington Post 

A Governing Philosophy Rebuffed: Ruling Emphasizes Constitutional Boundaries (Jan. 29, 2006)

Specter to grill officials on Bush ignoring laws (June 21, 2006)

Alito Once Made Case For Presidential Power (Jan., 2006)

Andrew Cohen: The Biggest Story You've Probably Missed (June 27, 2006)

George Will, No Checks Many Imbalances (February 16, 2006)