Signing statements help Bush rack up despot comparisons

The American Bar Association denounces Bush’s “signing statements” — i.e., announcements of refusal to adhere to portions of laws he doesn’t agree with — as de facto line item vetoes that improperly deprive Congress of the opportunity to override them.

The bar association panel said the use of signing statements in this way was “contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers.” From the dawn of the Republic, it said, presidents have generally understood that, in the words of George Washington, a president “must approve all the parts of a bill, or reject it in toto.”

A Republican legal activist recently compared Bush’s reasoning to that of King Louis XIV (“I am the State”), but the ABA sees shades of King James II.


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