Monday, February 26, 2007

Good News from D.C. - Republicans on House Judiciary Committee Protect Presidential Powers

There are some things you never hear about in the news media. One is when the Republicans actually do something right and show up the Democrats. This happened recently in the House Judiciary Committee. The Democrats were planning on hearings to savagely attack presidential signing statements. Signing statements are explanations of the president’s view of a bill given when the president signs the bill into law. The statement might say what the president believes the bill is designed to do, give the president’s opinions on the mischiefs the bill is designed to combat, or indicate how a vague portion of the new law is meant to be interpreted, or even say that the president expects a portion of the law to be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Some legislators hate presidential signing statements because they form a competing intent behind the bill. One of the major accusations his opponents have had against President Bush is that he has issued many signing statements.

The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee did not prepare well for their hearing. The hearing was designed to attack signing statements and they had witnesses lined up to complain about the practice. What they did not really do was look into the long-term history of signing statements. The Republicans did do that and came prepared. The Republicans laid out that presidents had been issuing signing statements regularly since the time of Andrew Jackson. It is not a new practice or a practice unique to Republican presidents.

Hooray for the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee! In this instance they undermined the Democrats’ attempts to create a constitutional crisis by enacting legislation designed to change presidential powers without amending the Constitution.

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