I knew that President Bush was using the so-called "signing statement" (where he signs a bill into law, but publishes a statement in the Federal Register about whether or not he agrees with it) an awful lot.
I didn't realize how
heavily he was using the tactic until I saw this Boston Globe article
Bush challenges hundreds of laws
President cites powers of his office
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | April 30, 2006
WASHINGTON -- President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.
The article notes that this isn't a completely new practice, but Bush has definitely taken it to a new level:
George H.W. Bush challenged 232 statutes over four years in office, and Bill Clinton objected to 140 laws over his eight years, according to Kelley, the Miami University of Ohio professor.
Many of the challenges involved longstanding legal ambiguities and points of conflict between the president and Congress.
Throughout the past two decades, for example, each president -- including the current one -- has objected to provisions requiring him to get permission from a congressional committee before taking action. The Supreme Court made clear in 1983 that only the full Congress can direct the executive branch to do things, but lawmakers have continued writing laws giving congressional committees such a role.
Still, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton used the presidential veto instead of the signing statement if they had a serious problem with a bill, giving Congress a chance to override their decisions.
But the current President Bush has abandoned the veto entirely, as well as any semblance of the political caution that Alito counseled back in 1986. In just five years, Bush has challenged more than 750 new laws, by far a record for any president, while becoming the first president since Thomas Jefferson to stay so long in office without issuing a veto.
I haven't liked George W. Bush - but I've rarely been as completely infuriated at his actions as I am right now. I'm reminded of another political leader - from an earlier part of American history - who had a bad habit of deliberately ignoring laws passed by legislatures, whose father also held the same position, and who was in fact the third person named George to so hold. I'm talking, of course, of King George III of Britain, upon whose watch the American colonies revolted some two hundred thirty one years ago.
I do not like these parallels at all. Not one single bit.