Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not Change--More of the same

I was an early and vocal supporter of Barrack Obama's Presidential run ( to be exact I had two candidates, one in each Party--Obama on the Dem side and Ron Paul on the Repub side). I have also been a vocal critic of many of George W Bush's policies. One particular practice I find particularly odious is the so-called Signing Statement, whereby the President essentially says that he doesn't plan on adhering to the very law he is in the process of signing.

I found this recent article in the NYTimes disturbing.

President Obama has issued signing statements claiming the authority to bypass dozens of provisions of bills enacted into law since he took office, provoking mounting criticism by lawmakers from both parties.

President George W. Bush, citing expansive theories about his constitutional powers, set off a national debate in 2006 over the propriety of signing statements — instructions to executive officials about how to interpret and put in place new laws — after he used them to assert that he could authorize officials to bypass laws like a torture ban and oversight provisions of the USA Patriot Act.


I believe these Signing Statements were wrong when Bush did them and I believe they are equally wrong now that Obama does them. What has happened to the US Constitution?

1 comment:

barbara said...

I was flying out of Chicago the day after President Obama's innauguration and the man sitting next to me allowed me to browse through the book he had just finished reading. It was the "Audacity of Hope" by Barrack Obama, and since I had time to read only one chapter I chose chapter 3: Our Consitution. Your post made me think of it.

I recall reading an emphasis on the interpretation of the US Constitution by our governing powers, and that this interpretation of the Constituion is constantly evolving when placed within the values and times of the governing body at hand. I also remember reading in that chapter the use of a filabuster as a constitutional option to oppose or obstruct the passing of a bill that did not serve a particular agenda.

So perhaps our current times have taken interpretation and constitutional options to another level ... perhaps the before-the-fact antics of filbustering has evolved into the after-the-fact antics of Signing Statements.

But in my mind (all interpretations aside), it is because of the US Constitution that any antics in question are forced to comply to an accepted practice ... at least until they undergo another round of interpretation. I see that as a good thing.

Your post shows how bizarre the governing checks & balance process can get, but I personally see that as the US Consitution being very much alive.