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I first brought this up in Drummer's diary

Since then I've done just a little digging and I believe there is a case to be made that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 should be stuck down as having been pocket vetoed!

I hope this makes for a legit first diary.  If not I'll remove it.

UPDATE: I suppose this is what happens when one gets a little too excited about a first diary. Had I taken a little more time I would have found the info about when the clock starts ticking - when presented to the White House, and when this bill was actually presented - Oct 10. Looks like W. got it in with a few days to spare.

Per the United State's Senate website dictionary a pocket veto is defined as:

pocket veto - The Constitution grants the President 10 days to review a measure passed by the Congress. If the President has not signed the bill after 10 days, it becomes law without his signature. However, if Congress adjourns during the 10-day period, the bill does not become law.

The law passed the House on Spetember 27, 2006 and was forwarded to the Senate where it passed on September 28, 2006.

Congress adjourned on Friday, September 29!  As I understand this the law needed to be signed by October 8 or 9.  If "days" in the pocket veto definition excludes weekends that still only pushes the signing window out to October 13 or 16 making today one day too late!

No matter how you slice it something smells very fishy here.  I suppose the White House could have been distracted by the Foley scandal and forgot about the signing, but I doubt it.  My fear is that there is some other sort of administrative power grab being attempted here that we are just failing to discern.

At any rate, I think this deserves some VERY close attention by Constitutional law experts if not the Judiciary itself.

Originally posted to figurefive on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 12:34 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kredwyn, Sychotic1, madgranny

    This should make it pretty easy to get rid of the "law" in January!

  •  No such luck (0+ / 0-)

    Liberal: "I still think it's a respectable word. Its root is "liber," the Latin word for "free," and isn't that what we are all about?"--Mary McGrory

    by mini mum on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 12:37:59 PM PDT

    •  But... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, curmudgiana, khereva

      If the diarist is correct, he signed a bill that he had in effect vetoed already.

      •  Nope (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        figurefive

        It was presented to the president on October 10.  The pocket veto takes effect 10 days after a bill is presented to the president.

        I doubt the administration would make that elementary of a mistake.

        Liberal: "I still think it's a respectable word. Its root is "liber," the Latin word for "free," and isn't that what we are all about?"--Mary McGrory

        by mini mum on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 12:44:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  they've done so with the signing statement itself (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sog0124

          a completely unconstitutional beast. This is a gnat, after that camel.

          Bring the Troops Home. Restore Constitutional Government. Take Back Your Nation.
          Justice Holmes: "When you strike at a King, you must kill him."

          by khereva on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 12:58:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  where is the signing statement (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            madgranny

            i've been wanting to get my teeth on it

            •  I bet it will show up (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              justme, madgranny

              After 5:00 PM Eastern time. On Friday.

              Liberal: "I still think it's a respectable word. Its root is "liber," the Latin word for "free," and isn't that what we are all about?"--Mary McGrory

              by mini mum on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 01:01:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I mean specifically is that there is no such (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              madgranny

              animal as a signing statement, Constitutionally. He can sign, or he can veto, or he can pocket veto (which i believe he did here). But he cannot constitutionally add to or subtract from the law himself.

              Bring the Troops Home. Restore Constitutional Government. Take Back Your Nation.
              Justice Holmes: "When you strike at a King, you must kill him."

              by khereva on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 01:02:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, there is (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                madgranny, figurefive

                A signing statement is a proclamation added by the President to pieces of legislation he signs indicating how he intends to interperet and enforce it.

                And for Bush, it usually means he'll do as he damn well pleases.

                Liberal: "I still think it's a respectable word. Its root is "liber," the Latin word for "free," and isn't that what we are all about?"--Mary McGrory

                by mini mum on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 01:04:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  correct (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mini mum, figurefive

                  In a sense, the President must interpret a law, to some extent, in order to right regulations and to enforce the law, in much the same way it is congress's job (and to an extent the President's job) to interpret the constitution on whether a law is constitutional.

                  People seem to think that since this is the primary job of the judiciary, that it cannot be done by the other two branches, but for them to do their jobs, it's essentially necessary for them to do so.

                  The problem with Bush's signing statements is not that they're signing statements, it's that he's essentially using an extra-legal line-item veto.

                  •  to add to the basic civics lesson (0+ / 0-)

                    this is why the judicial branch is so weak.

                    All branches can judge the constitutionality of laws.
                    All branches can and do interpret the law (congress must do so to even know what they're passing; the president must do so to enforce it)

                    However, the executive and legislative branches are given bonus powers: legislative branch can write laws while the executive branch enforces them.

                    The judicial branch has neither law making abilities nor enforcement abilities.  It's only power is that it can overrule either or both of the bother branches on the first two duties - interpretation and constitutionality.

            •  I read it somewhere (0+ / 0-)

              and thought it was kinda odd to issue a signing statement before signing.

              I can't find linky goodness as of right now though.

              "Maybe you know something I don't know." -- G Dub (-4.38,-3.03)

              by don the tin foil on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 01:15:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  My last hope (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            khereva, Oreo, figurefive

            Is that the courts gut the thing by declaring most of it unconstitutional.  I wonder who'll be heading up the legal challenges....

            Liberal: "I still think it's a respectable word. Its root is "liber," the Latin word for "free," and isn't that what we are all about?"--Mary McGrory

            by mini mum on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 12:58:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, good catch! (0+ / 0-)

    The only way out I see is if he actually signed it earlier and today was only a signing ceremony. Otherwise, yes, it's a huge goof.

  •  what? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, khereva, madgranny

    He waited around to actually sign the thing? After all that politicking on his part to get what he wanted?

    Why?

    "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

    by kredwyn on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 12:38:55 PM PDT

  •  Unfortunately no (12+ / 0-)

    Thomas says this about the bill:

    9/29/2006 2:47pm:
       On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 250 - 170 (Roll no. 508). (text: CR H7925-7936)
    9/29/2006 2:47pm:
       Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
    9/29/2006:
       Cleared for White House.
    10/10/2006:
       Presented to President.

    So I believe the 10 days start from the 10th, not the 29th

  •  He has 10 days from when the bill is (7+ / 0-)

    presented to the President. The Military Commissions Act wasn't sent to the While House until October 10th. Often, Congress will hold a bill and not send it for up to a few weeks to allow the President some flexibility about when to sign it, either for scheduling or political purposes.

    Sorry, folks, but its legit.

    "Be radical, be radical, be not too damned radical." - Whitman [-4.50, -5.79]

    by DemHillStaffer on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 12:39:55 PM PDT

  •  Couple things (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pb, slippytoad, madgranny, figurefive

    From Wiki

    A pocket veto is a legislative maneuver in American federal lawmaking. The U.S. Constitution requires the President to sign or veto any legislation placed on his desk within ten days (not including Sundays). If he does not, then it becomes law by default. The one exception to this rule is if Congress adjourns before the ten days are up. In such a case, the bill does not become law; it is effectively, if not actually, vetoed. Ignoring legislation, or "putting a bill in one's pocket" until Congress adjourns is thus called a pocket veto. Since Congress cannot vote while in adjournment, a pocket veto cannot be overridden.

    So the big question is Does the law need to be delivered to the WH or does the clock start as soon as it's passed?

  •  The signing statement accompaning the bill (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena, docangel, TheBlaz, figurefive

    (that the press didn't bother to read) says that the adjournment rule infringes on the rights of the president to protect the nation during a time of "war", and therefore does not apply.

    17. Ne5

    In chess you may hit a man when he's down -- Irving Chernev, on Przepiorka v. Prokes, Budapest, 1929

    by Spud1 on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 12:41:01 PM PDT

    •  You're fucking kidding me (0+ / 0-)

      They actually wrote that on the Bill?  It should be struck down by the SC pre-emptively on that basis alone!!! If they can't be bothered to do their business in the time allotted, they can just not have their cake and eat it too.  Jesus!  This Unitary Executive shit has got to stop.  I hope if we get a Dem Congress they jerk a fucking knot in his Little Lord Faunterloy tail!!!

      Listening to David Frum talk about foreign policy is like listening to Jeffrey Dahmer talk about cooking. -- The Rude Pundit

      by slippytoad on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 02:24:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't understand this diary... (0+ / 0-)

    Here's a quote from the article mini mum links to above:

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 — President Bush signed legislation today that created new rules for prosecuting and interrogating terror suspects, a move that Mr. Bush said would enable the Central Intelligence Agency to resume a once-secret program to question the most dangerous terrorists.

    •  What he's saying is.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pb, srkp23, Omen

      If the bill was accidentally pocket-vetoed that Bush could not have signed it into law.

    •  the diarist (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      srkp23

      is asking whether or not the pocket veto applies to the legislation. If it does, than the President signed a billed that (for all intents and purposes) "went bad" and should not be law.

      Politics is the deliberation of one's moral enterprise.

      by Omen on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 12:45:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Trying to introduce a technicality (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      srkp23, figurefive

      The diarist is claiming that since the Senate passed the bill on Sept. 28, more than 10 days have passed so the bill was pocket vetoed.  The clock starts when the bill is presented to the president, which was on October 10.

      Liberal: "I still think it's a respectable word. Its root is "liber," the Latin word for "free," and isn't that what we are all about?"--Mary McGrory

      by mini mum on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 12:45:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  However, (0+ / 0-)
        Congress ajourned on October 14th.

        Pocket veto definition from the Senate.

        pocket veto - The Constitution grants the President 10 days to review a measure
        passed by the Congress. If the President has not signed the bill after 10 days,
        it becomes law without his signature. However, if Congress adjourns during the
        10-day period, the bill does not become law.

        Emphasis mine

        I believe, though I am not a lawyer, that the clock on the 10 days starts with the presentation to the President, October 10th. Congress ajourned on the 14th. It was a Congressional ajournment  according to the Congressional Clerk. Note the use of the word ajourned.

        FWIW

        "The healthy man does not torture others - generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers. " Jung

        by sailmaker on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 01:46:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ooh! (0+ / 0-)

          Good point.  Though, when it comes to these guys rules 'n' shit are for pussies.

          Still, maybe that makes it that much easier for the first-line court ruling to whack it on a technicality.  And I can see the wisdom in this rule: it very rightly prevents Congress from using the legislative process to campaign with outside the window of their term.  If the Preznit doesn't act while they're in session, the decision should not apply.

          Listening to David Frum talk about foreign policy is like listening to Jeffrey Dahmer talk about cooking. -- The Rude Pundit

          by slippytoad on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 02:17:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  2nd link is from the Phillippines (0+ / 0-)

          But I think we're saying the same thing...

          Liberal: "I still think it's a respectable word. Its root is "liber," the Latin word for "free," and isn't that what we are all about?"--Mary McGrory

          by mini mum on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 05:08:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think so... (0+ / 0-)

          It looks to me like they actually adjourned at the end of September; more here.

          •  Yes , my face is pink with the bad link (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pb
            They adjourned in the wee small hours of Sept. 30.

            It seems a bill can be presented to the President after Congress has adjourned, and that he can sign it after Congress has adjourned. I thought that the prohibition was on signing (or vetoing) while Congress was adjourned was in the Consitution for the purpose of this: if the President vetos a bill, Congress has the right to override a veto, if they are not adjourned. In my (non legal) opinion presentation and signing after Congress has adjourned takes away the right of Congress to over ride a veto.

            "The healthy man does not torture others - generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers. " Jung

            by sailmaker on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 11:21:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's what it looks like; (0+ / 0-)

              I'm still not clear on how exactly Congress can present a bill to the President after they have adjourned, but apparently they can, and do... I wonder what the history and precedent of that is.

  •  And actually, one note that I think people missed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figurefive

    the Senate's version was repassed by the House on the 29th.

    •  What? (0+ / 0-)

      Please tell me more about this repassing. Same bill? Anything changed?

      •  Matching language (0+ / 0-)

        The versions of all bills passed by House and Senate must have identical language.  There was likely some wording changes made by the Senate that then had to be ratified by the House.

        When the differences between House and Senate versions are larger the bill goes to conference where a small group hammers out the details.

        The immigration bill, for example, went to conference, but the differences have proven too big to overcome as yet.

        "nothing" the unjust man complained "is just" / ("or un-" the just rejoined) -ee cummings

        by figurefive on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 01:25:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Too bad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figurefive

    If it had been formally presented to the President in a prompt manner, there would have been an intriguing argument as to whether it had been pocket vetoed or not.  Here is a link to a Congressional Research Service report on this issue:

    http://www.senate.gov/...

    Ironically, if the President hadn't done anything with it for more than 10 days after it was actually presented to him for signature, the traditional Executive Branch position is that it would have been pocket vetoed after ten days.  It would really have been lovely to have them make that basic a mistake, but unfortunately, even they evidently aren't that incompetent.

    "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

    by leevank on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 12:51:16 PM PDT

  •  My letter to Glenn Greenwald (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figurefive
    Hello,

    I have a question about the handling of the Military Detainee bill, which I know
    was signed this morning.

    A few facts:

    The bill was presented to the President on October 10th.
    http://www.congress.gov/...

    Congress ajourned on October 14th. Note the use of the word ajourned.
    http://www.congress.gov.ph/...

    Definition of pocket veto under Senate
    rules.http://www.senate.gov/...

    pocket veto - The Constitution grants the President 10 days to review a measure
    passed by the Congress. If the President has not signed the bill after 10 days,
    it becomes law without his signature. However, if Congress adjourns during the
    10-day period, the bill does not become law.

    My question is: did Bush sign the bill before Congress ajourned, or was today
    all for show?

    Thanks in advance,
    Sailmaker

    "The healthy man does not torture others - generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers. " Jung

    by sailmaker on Tue Oct 17, 2006 at 01:36:46 PM PDT

  •  Tag Notes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosette

    Please do not enter "bush" or "Bush" or "President Bush" as a tag.  (Tag fixed for this diary)

    Tag guidelines instruct that when names are used both the first and last names should be included and in cases like the George Bushes - the middle initials are essential.  

    The correct tag for the current president is "George W. Bush."   If you have TU, please help watch for and correct “bush” tags.

    We are trying to clean up about 4491 "bush" tags.  And that was a count before today!  We have to do this by individually editing diaries because until we look at them, we don't know for sure which Bush they refer to.

    A list of the most used tags can be found here:
    http://www.dkosopedia.com/...

  •  From the Constitution (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slippytoad, SarekOfVulcan, figurefive

    Section 7 - Revenue Bills, Legislative Process, Presidential Veto

    All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

    Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

    Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

    Not that anyone in the Bush adminstration / Republican Congress ever read the Constitution.

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