The Associated Press
Specter Prepping Bill to Sue Bush
Mon Jul 24, 2006 23:08

Specter Prepping Bill to Sue Bush

The Associated Press


A powerful Republican committee chairman who has led the fight against President Bush's signing statements said Monday he would have a bill ready by the end of the week allowing Congress to sue him in federal court.

"We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will...authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said on the Senate floor.

Specter's announcement came the same day that an American Bar Association task force concluded that by attaching conditions to legislation, the president has sidestepped his constitutional duty to either sign a bill, veto it, or take no action.

Bush has issued at least 750 signing statements during his presidency, reserving the right to revise, interpret or disregard laws on national security and constitutional grounds.

"That non-veto hamstrings Congress because Congress cannot respond to a signing statement," said ABA president Michael Greco. The practice, he added "is harming the separation of powers."

Bush has challenged about 750 statutes passed by Congress, according to numbers compiled by Specter's committee. The ABA estimated Bush has issued signing statements on more than 800 statutes, more than all other presidents combined.

Signing statements have been used by presidents, typically for such purposes as instructing agencies how to execute new laws.

But many of Bush's signing statements serve notice that he believes parts of bills he is signing are unconstitutional or might violate national security.

Still, the White House said signing statements are not intended to allow the administration to ignore the law.

"A great many of those signing statements may have little statements about questions about constitutionality," said White House spokesman Tony Snow. "It never says, 'We're not going to enact the law.'"

Specter's announcement intensifies his challenge of the administration's use of executive power on a number of policy matters. Of particular interest to him are two signing statements challenging the provisions of the USA Patriot Act renewal, which he wrote, and legislation banning the use of torture on detainees.

Bush is not without congressional allies on the matter. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a former judge, has said that signing statements are nothing more than expressions of presidential opinion that carry no legal weight because federal courts are unlikely to consider them when deciding cases that challenge the same laws.

2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Lawyers Decry Bush's Legal Interpretations —LEGAL EXCEPTIONS, Mon Jul 24 17:57
LEGAL EXCEPTIONSLawyers Decry Bush's Legal InterpretationsBy Gina HollandAssociated Press WriterJuly 24,–WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's penchant for writing exceptions to laws he has just signed violates the Constitution, an American Bar Association task force says in a report highly critical of...

Office of the President
ABA President Testifies to House Intelligence Committee Hearing on Domestic Surveillance

Message from ABA President Michael S. Greco

On July 19, 2006, by invitation of the Committee's leadership, I testified at a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the subject of modernization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) . The testimony I presented reflected the policy adopted near-unanimously by the American Bar Association House of Delegates in February 2006, based on a unanimous report and unanimous recommendations of the bi-partisan and distinguished ABA Task Force on Domestic Surveillance in the Fight Against Terrorism.

I am pleased that Congress, under the separation of powers doctrine, is now asserting its important oversight role on secret surveillance of American citizens in our governmental system of checks and balances. It is extremely important that all citizens, but particularly lawyers, gain a thorough understanding of the important issues that Congress is considering. I therefore encourage all ABA members, and all citizens, to monitor what Congress is doing relating to domestic surveillance and become engaged in the discussion about how best to balance our national security needs with protection of our cherished Constitutional rights and liberties. Congress, the administration, and the American people, will benefit from the thoughtfully-considered views of America's lawyers.

ABA President's Testimony to House Intelligence Committee Hearing on Domestic Surveillance


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