Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Revealed: Bush's Presidential Signing
Statements Have Been Used to Nullify Laws

From AlterNet:

The report was conducted fairly simply. GAO officials surveyed 19 of last year's 160 objections to determine how the statements had impacted the implementation of laws. According to the report: "We contacted the relevant agencies and asked them how they were executing the provisions. After evaluating the responses we received, we determined that agencies failed to execute six provisions as enacted."


Indeed, it's the Unitary Executive Theory -- another Constitutionally dubious concept -- that has made Bush's use of signing statements especially damaging. Last year, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) inserted a provision into the Department of Defense emergency supplemental bill that would have criminalized the use of torture by U.S. military interrogators. In order to protect the measure's effectiveness, McCain included a provision that aimed to stop all interference by the President, save for a veto of the entire package. "The provisions of this section," it read, "shall not be superseded, except by a provision of law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act which specifically repeals, modifies, or supersedes the provisions of this section."

But upon signing the law, President Bush declared his intent to interpret the law "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power."

Click here for the rest.

Okay, it's disturbing enough that Bush and his boys think it's just fine to redefine, however they like, the laws they're supposed to execute, but this "unitary executive theory" bullshit moves into some very frightening territory. The AlterNet essay explains that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, probably the most conservative asshole on the bench, is the theory's principal champion: it is beyond irony that Scalia is a "strict constructionist," the kind of guy who's not at all into creative Constitutional interpretation. And that's the problem. "Unitary executive theory" literally ignores the plain language of the Constitution, which unequivocally grants the executive branch only the power to execute laws, in favor of some pretty wild textual inferences seen by wild-eyed right-wing weirdos like Scalia, but nobody else.

The long and short of "unitary executive theory" is that it grants the President near king-like powers. In the long run, this hurts Democrats and Republicans alike. It's anti-American insanity.