Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Presidential administration shits on rule of law; media yawns

You all are probably aware that Bush issued hundreds of signing statements declaring basically that he reserved the right to violate the laws he had just signed if he felt like it.

So it should come as no surprise that he did just that.
Federal officials have disobeyed at least six new laws that President Bush challenged in his signing statements, a government study disclosed yesterday. The report provides the first evidence that the government may have acted on claims by Bush that he can set aside laws under his executive powers.

In a report to Congress, the non partisan Government Accountability Office studied a small sample of the bill provisions that Bush has signed into law but also challenged with signing statements. The GAO found that agencies disobeyed six such laws, while enforcing 10 others as written even though Bush had challenged them.


The GAO conducted its study by looking at all the provisions in 11 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2006 that Bush challenged in signing statements. It counted 160 such laws that the president had claimed a right to ignore.

Investigators then selected a representative sample of 19 bill provisions Bush had targeted and asked agencies to explain whether and how they had obeyed the provisions. It found that 10 such laws were enforced as written, six were not enforced as written, and three did not have to be enforced because the circumstance envisioned had not materialized.

I really hope that no-one takes the fact that Bush's track record is enforcing 10 out of 16 laws as a reasonable defense of him violating those he feels like. So let's see what the administration's defense actually is:
Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, defended Bush's use of signing statements and his expansive view of the president's constitutional powers.

"We are executing the law as we believe we are empowered to do so," Fratto said. "The signing statements certainly do and should have an impact. They are real."

Translation: "We believe we're above the law, so it should come as no surprise that we break it with impunity." Which is pretty much what Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project, had to say:
"The findings of this report should come as no great surprise: When the president tells federal agencies they don't have to follow the law, they often don't," Sloan said. "This report should put to rest any doubts as to the real impact of signing statements. The Constitution does not bestow upon the president the power to simply ignore portions of laws he doesn't like."

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