Monday, July 17, 2006

Bush signs away our democracy

There's a great editorial in the Chicago Tribune on presidential signing statements. Richard A. Epstein notes that while the device is not new, this White House has taken their use to an unprecendented level.
Since he took office, Bush has used this device to object to more than 500 provisions in more than 100 pieces of legislation--nearly as many as the 575 signing statements issued by all of his predecessors combined. In these statements, the president often has claimed that the new laws violate the Constitution and signaled his intention not to enforce certain provisions, despite having signed them into law.
Epstein also notes that the Congress is complicit in the fudging of the legislative record, as evidenced by the recent addition of remarks by a couple of legislators long after debate was closed and everyone else went home. Still, the larger problem is our chief executive ignoring the time honored system of government by the people, for the people with his blatant disregard for the legislative process by voiding hard fought legislative compromise with these statements. The money quote is at the end.
America's greatness is due in no small measure to our system of government, in which power and authority are deliberately divided. The separation of powers is not a mere "technicality." It is the centerpiece of our Constitution. Our freedoms depend upon it in the future, just as they have in the past.
Bush's unapologetic disregard for these safeguards, designed specificially to avoid this sort of abuse of executive power endangers us far more than all the terrorists in the world.
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