Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Violation Of The Constitution

According to an American Bar Association task force, which includes a one-time FBI director and former federal appeals court judge, has said that President Bush's penchant for writing exceptions to laws he has just signed violates the Constitution

In short, the president overstepped his authority in attaching challenges to hundreds of new laws. These attachments, known as bill-signing statements, reserves a right to revise, interpret or disregard measures on national security and constitutional grounds.

The separation of powers between the branches of government has been integral to the success of this experiment we call the American democracy. The practice, if unchecked, harms the separation of powers doctrine.

Noel J. Francisco, a former Bush administration attorney who practices law in Washington, said the president is doing nothing unusual or inappropriate. In a statement on, Mr. Francisco says, "Presidents have always issued signing statements, this administration believes that it should make clear ... when the Congress is getting close to the lines that our Constitution draws." This is a nice answer, decisive, and snappy. However, when one looks at the record and discovers that President Bush has had more than 800 signing statement challenges, compared with about 600 signing statements combined for all other presidents, eyebrows should be raised.

President Reagan was the first to use the statements as a strategic weapon, and that is what President Bush is attempting to use it as, though it should be said that other means can and should be used, instead. In effect, using such attachments is paramount to a line-item veto, and on the important issues of national security and the constitution, using such attachments to “get your way” when the Courts or Congress has a difference of opinion invalidates the purpose and the INTENT of the separation of powers doctrine.

The framers of the Constitution did not see the Executive branch becoming as important as it has become. In their experience, a combination of historical memory and prior professional duties indicated a strong legislative body, such as Parliament, when Congress was created. Political parties and presidential personality has molded the Executive into what we know it as today. At the heart is a healthy, if spirited, dialogue between the branches of our federal government, where the separation of powers are observed and each branch checks and balances the power of the other. The current practice utilized by President Bush undercuts this very sacred tradition, removing a key check, with no valid replacement.

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