The Media misses another big one: the ABA condemns Bush’s bill-signing duplicity.

August 26, 2006 | By | 3 Replies More

The mainstream media missed another big story recently: The President has been screwing around with our Constitution and the nation’s largest association of lawyers has called him on it. 

On August 8, 2006, American Bar Association, a national association of 410,000 lawyers, condemned President Bush’s widespread practice of writing exceptions to legislation he signs into law.  For a report by, see here.

According to the Sept 2006 issue of the St. Louis Journalism Review (the article isn’t yet available on-line),  the ABA delegates reported that the vote was across the board, with no distinctions between red states and blue states.  The resolution itself can be found here.

The ABA press release elaborates on Bush’s impropriety:

Presidential signing statements that assert President Bush’s authority to disregard or decline to enforce laws adopted by Congress undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers . . . 

The task force report states, “From the inception of the Republic until 2000, Presidents produced fewer than 600 signing statements taking issue with the bills they signed. According to the most recent update, in his one-and-a-half terms so far, President George Walker Bush … has produced more than 800.”

The report found that President Bush’s signing statements are “ritualistic, mechanical and generally carry no citation of authority or detailed explanation.” . . . This . . . raises serious concerns crucial to the survival of our democracy,” said Greco. “If left unchecked, the president’s practice does grave harm to the separation of powers doctrine, and the system of checks and balances, that have sustained our democracy for more than two centuries. Immediate action is required to address this threat to the Constitution and to the rule of law in our country.

In sum, President Bush has been using these numerous signing statements to quietly change the laws presented to him.  This practice also allows Bush to avoid use of the presidential veto.  Last month, Bush used his first presidential veto in 5 ½ years.  That veto resisted Congressional legislation to allow further federal funding for stem cell research.

As reported by The Jurist, Bush’s technique is dishonest:

“The constitution says the president has two choices: either sign the bill or veto it. And if you sign it, you can’t have your hand behind your back with your fingers crossed,” said Michael Greco, the ABA’s outgoing president.


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Category: Law, Media, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    It is shocking to think that Bush believes he can utterly ignore the Constitution merely by stamping something with the label of "national security," especially when he has so often lied to the world to inflate the severity of the threat.

  2. Artemis says:

    Help! help! Get this guy outta office!

    Its like living in the dark age, or under some bizarre aristocracy.

    The lack of conscious, intelligent, reasoned thinking is so apparent. It is hard not to condemn Bush.

    But we must consciously and adamantly change the system that allowed him to be elected.

    GO SEE "CAN MR. SMITH GET TO WASHINGTON ANYMORE?" It is an award-winning documentary, and it is currently showing in one major midwestern city, and soon to shown in others.

  3. Artemis says:


    Its showing in several cities. Meanwhile, avail yourself of any and all campaign info for local and federal congress or senate representatives… find out who is running, which offices need filling, and if you can't run yourself, support the guy or gal who best represents honesty, integrity, and a willingness to change the old-boy mentality.

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