Presidential Signing Statements
October 10, 2006Edwin Meese III, John S. Baker, Jr., Charles J. Cooper, David B. Rivkin, Jr., Gary Lawson, Lee A. Casey, Steven G. Calabresi, Robert F. Turner
A presidential signing statement is a written statement the President makes when signing a bill into law. The President may use this statement to praise those involved in passing the bill, to explain to the public what impact he believes the law will have, to direct subordinate officers within the executive branch how to interpret and administer the law, including how to interpret it to avoid a constitutional problem, or to inform Congress and the public that he believes that a particular provision is unalterably unconstitutional and thus the executive branch will not enforce the provision.
The American Bar Association formed a special task force to study the use of such signing statements and recently issued a report highly critical of the practice. The task force concludes that the President's use of signing statements to indicate constitutional objections or concerns is itself unconstitutional. The ABA task force is wrong.