In an outrageous but all-too-familiar move, President Bush has declared in a signing statement that he is entitled to ignore certain provisions of the FY 2008 Defense Authorization Bill, which he signed into law yesterday. One of these provisions would establish an independent, bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting; another would extend whistleblower protections to employees of defense contractors.
According to the White House press release, the burdensome provisions “purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations...The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.”
As many reporters have pointed out, the use of presidential signing statements has increased at an alarming rate under the current administration. But should the president be allowed to selectively disregard any part of a bill that he signs into law? Senator Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CQ Today that “the courts have ruled that the president cannot pick and choose provisions of appropriations bills that [he wants] to comply with.” A blue-ribbon American Bar Association task force also found that these signing statements “undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers.”
-- Michael Smallberg