The Wisest Word Yet on Signing Statements
Finally, some official sense in the debate over President Bush's use of "signing statements" to undercut the force and scope of Congressional legislation. Walter Dellinger, head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel during most of the first Clinton term, has chimed in again, this time on the op-ed page of the New York Times this, with a reasonable view of the matter.
As he did in 1993 when he defended the use of signing statements, Delliinger says that signing statements are legitimate and necessary uses of presidential authority. But, he says, the whole debate over their widespread use by the Bush Administration misses the larger point-- "which is not the president's right to act on his constitutional views, but that some of this president's constitutional views are fundamentally wrong." Dellinger's op-ed is a big deal because his old memo has been used by many conservative commentators, and bloggers, as "proof" that "liberal" lawyers are hypocritically attacking President Bush over a practice that they embraced when it was performed by President Clinton. Dellinger's piece clarifies a lot and in this debate, legally and politically, that's truly a welcome thing.
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