Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Constitution Actually Does Matter

Sen. Arlen Specter will be convening hearings in June to look into President Bush's belief that he's above the laws that he signs into being. Bush has taken the completely bizarre stance that if he issues a "signing statement" at the time of signing a bill, then his statement determines what the bill says. Apparently what the bill says doesn't determine what the bill says.

And conservatives say that academics live in a world of relativism and careful misreading.

The problem with Bush's stance is that it's so extreme and irrational that discussing its implications makes one sound paranoid. But Bush's stance really is the foundation for an unconstitutional, authoritarian power grab. He might not intend it that way, but that's what it is. If the President gets to decide what laws "actually" mean, there's no point in having a Congress or a judiciary. We should just crown him Emperor and get it over with.

Article I, Section 7, Clause 2 of the Constitution and says (pay attention, strict constructionists):

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 the President signs a bill, it's law. Period. If he doesn't like it, he can veto it. The President gets a bill like the rest of get a bank loan: If we sign it, we have to pay it back. If we don't sign it, we don't. But nobody lets us sign the loan and then say afterward, "By signing this loan, I consent only to the conditions of the loan that give me the money; I maintain my right to ignore all provisions requiring me to pay it back with interest. In fact, this document isn't really a loan from a bank. It's a Christmas present. From aliens."


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