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Constitutional 'Originalists' Mum On Presidential Signing Statements

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Message Allen Snyder
Of all BushCo's Constitutional violations, the most interesting is the so-called Presidential 'signing statement'. BushCo's CEO, Zippy McFlightsuit, is being taken to what passes for 'task' in Congress and the MSM, for not only using the practice habitually, but for leaving all other Presidents (I use this term very loosely when referring to Bush) before him in the dust. This twice-unelected President has issued over 750 such statements while those before him issued fewer than that amount combined.

If you don't know what a signing statement is, it's a bullshit way for the President to sign a legislative bill with his fingers crossed, with a wink and a 'just kidding', or in BushCo parlance, with a big 'Go f*ck Yourself!' to the country and Congress. See, after he signs whatever bill into law with great patriotic fanfare, Dubya sneaks off to Cheney's office and sings another document saying if he decides the law he just signed interferes with his regressive agenda or prevents him from doing whatever the f*ck he wants to do, he can ignore it (all in the name of national security, of course). The law still applies to you and me, but His Royal Highness is not to be bound by such trivialities.

So when his old buddy John McCain's anti-torture bill came before him, Dubya was ready. The bill was designed mainly to prevent events like the one that recently occurred involving two US soldiers who were captured and tortured beyond recognition. Under much public pressure, Dubya signed the bill, but then immediately signed a 'signing statement' saying he'll torture anybody he goddamn wants to. What a guy!

If you don't know what a Constitutional 'Originalist' is, it's supposedly someone who thinks the Constitution says what it means and means what it says - no more, no less. It's not a living document whose interpretation may change over time, they believe, but a static text whose meaning is forever stuck in the 18th century.

I say 'supposedly' 'cause I have yet to meet such a person. 'Originalists' like Supreme Embarrassment Justice Scalia/Thomas are consummate cherry-picking 'originalists', consciously choosing which parts of the Constitution they want to view in its original and which they don't.

Not surprisingly, their decisions have a decidedly partisan and political flavor. For instance, even though the Supreme Court (before it was stacked with regressive apparatchiks) has repeatedly upheld a Constitutional right to privacy, the 'originalists' maintain that since the word 'privacy' appears nowhere in the text, the Framers were not interested in preserving such a right. Denying the right to privacy, of course, is a favored regressive tactic whose sole purpose is the undermining and eventual elimination of abortion rights for women.

The US Constitution is not a lengthy document. It doesn't take long to read....

There - done.

Here are the relevant portions; the first, Article I, Section 7 on the passage of bills and the second, Article II, Section 2, on the powers of the executive:

"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."


"The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session."

Anyone who can read is forced to acknowledge that there's not one damn word in this text about signing statements. It's painfully clear the President's only options when presented with a bill is to sign it, veto it, or ignore it.

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