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View Diary: Professor Epstein Sounds the Alarm on Signing Statements (159 comments)

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  •  What more do you need than pretense? (0+ / 0-)

    Show me an instance in which a mugger has dropped his weapon and gone home because he's been shown a citation to the law.

    Where the rubber meets the road -- that is, in the everyday execution of the directives of the president by the heads of the executive departments -- the law is being interpreted as the signing statements, and not the federal courts, would have it.

    You're seriously asking us to show you the "legal significance" of everyday practice?

    •  The Emporer has No Clothes, Period (0+ / 0-)

      Your argument and attendant hysteria (yours and too many others) is that The Emporer has clothes, and an all-powerful wardrobe, at that. Mine is that little voice that says "Uh, not so much."

      I thought initially that the mugger analogy was inapt, but now I think it proves my point: Granted, a recitation of case law is unlikely to cause a committed mugger to change course, but once the deed is done and the case brought before a magistrate, no Executive signing statement that might accompany his signature on the bill that outlaws assault and robbery would/should have any bearing on the court's deliberation and decision. It is the language of the statute passed by a duly elected legislative branch that matters. Once the Executive affixes its signature to a bill, his or her rationale for doing so is irrelevant.

      The Chadha and Bowsher decisions cited by FWIW upthread do not support the argument that Presidential signing statements have any bearing on Judicial interpretation of law: None of the 8 holdings in Chadha rely on Executive thoughts on the law in question. A few excerpts from the Burger decision repudiate that suggestion:

      When an agency of the United States is a party to a case in which the Act of Congress it administers is held unconstitutional, it is an aggrieved party for purposes of taking an appeal under 1252. The agency's status as an aggrieved party under 1252 is not altered by the fact that the Executive may agree with the holding that the statute in question is unconstitutional.

      No policy underlying the political question doctrine [462 U.S. 919, 942] suggests that Congress or the Executive, or both acting in concert and in compliance with Art. I, can decide the constitutionality of a statute; that is a decision for the courts.

      Likewise, none of the holdings in Bowsher award any legal merit to Reagan's interpretation of the budget reduction act of 1986.

      Hence my claim that signing statements constitute a pretense to power seem to stand up. Any party with standing that alleges violation of statute may therefore appear quite capable of filing tort action without regard to Executive signing statements.

      The emporer has no clothes, and shrieking that he does, and that they are all-powerful, only serves to convince other gullible sorts that he does.

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