The Legal Significance of Presidential Signing Statements

August 9, 2006

Steven G. Calabresi

A quiet revolution in the scope of the President's constitutionally prescribed "lawmaking" powers took place during the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Nowhere was this more evident than in the successful campaign the two Presidents launched to make far more aggressive use of presidential signing statements than had their predecessors. The presidential signing statement initiative was developed and spearheaded by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III and was then continued during the Bush years by former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray. The initiative quickly drew fire from both academics and legislators who denounced it as a usurpation of Congress's constitutionally exclusive power over lawmaking.

The Legal Significance of Presidential Signing Statements