Sen. Specter ready to challenge signing statementsAh, now then, Mr. Greco. You are, no doubt, a lawyer. (Wouldn't the president of the American Bar Association be a lawyer?) And lawyers, as we all know, are smart people. So, I hope I can be forgiven for suspecting that you're just trying to drum up business for your brother and sister attorneys. If you were actually sincere when you said that "Congress cannot respond to a signing statement," why, you were just being foolish -- and, as I say, I don't for one minute esteem you as foolish. Of course Congress can respond to a signing statement. Here's how.
Legislation would permit judicial review of Bush's actions
Wednesday, July 26, 2006; Posted: 4:50 a.m. EDT (08:50 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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-Pennsylvania, 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."
Suppose -- and this is just a wild hypothetical example here -- suppose that the Congress made a law telling President Dubya that he couldn't torture prisoners any more. Now obviously, that could never be necessary, since we live in the most wonderful and free country in all of human history, but bear with me; this is just an example, for the sake of discussion. And suppose Dubya signed this law, but attached a "signing statement" saying yeah, yeah, that's nice, but I'll torture anybody I damned well please, because I'm the Decider, protectin' the Murkan people, time of war, blah blah blah ...
All hypothetical, of course. But what could the Congress do?
[Excuse me for a moment here, while I channel Mr. Fred Rogers.]
Well, neighbor ... the Congress could just ignore the signing statement, because it's something that has no constitutional existence anyway. But they could keep an eye on President Dubya ... we call that "oversight." That's a big word! Can you say "oversight?" ... good! I knew you could. The Congress has many good tools that it can use to do oversight, if the Congressmen and Congresswomen really want to. These tools can help them find out many things for sure, if they really want to. And then, the very, very first time the Congress found out that President Dubya had tortured a prisoner, the Congress could do something else. Something very, very special. It's another big word ... let's spell it!
Here we go ... I, M, P, E, A, C, H! Im - peach. Can you say "impeach?" ... good! I knew you could. But what does "impeach" mean? Does it have to do with that really yummy fruit we get to eat around this time of year? It sounds like it ... but that's not what it means. It means that President Dubya doesn't get to be president any more. It means he has to stop living in the White House, and he doesn't get to torture prisoners any more. And that might make President Dubya sad. But he'll feel better after a while. He could go to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and he'd feel better. President Dubya's Neighborhood of Make-Believe is different from ours. King Friday doesn't live there, and neither does Lady Aberlin. He doesn't take the trolley to get there, either. But President Dubya's friends, Jack Daniels and Jim Beam, live there, and sometimes he can get some special candy, called "nose candy." So soon, President Dubya will feel fine again, even though he's not the War President any more.
And the prisoners who don't get tortured any more will feel lots better.
And neighbor ... you and I might feel a lot better, too.
Now, it's time for me to slip off my cardigan and put my suit coat back on. See you tomorrow, neighbor!
It's such a good feeling to know you're alive.
It's such a happy feeling: you're growing inside.
And when you wake up ready to say,
"I think I'll make a snappy new day."
It's such a good feeling, a very good feeling,
The feeling you know that we're friends.