Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Signing the Constitution Away

Cato's David Boaz, discussing President Bush's "signing statements", makes a point similar to one I brought up a few days ago:

If you are a conservative, ask yourself: would you want Hillary Clinton to have this power?

(Come January 2009, you can bet they won't.) He also reminds us that since WWII, presidents have "increasingly found themselves driven to sign bills that they believe are at least partly unconstitutional." The response has typically been by using signing statements to indicate that they believed some provisions were unconstitutrional. Bush did just this when signing the ill-conceived (and grossly unconstitutional, by the way) McCain-Feingold bill restricting campaign spending. He said the bill as written had "serious constitutional concerns" and his expectation that "the courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions." But of more concern is how Bush has used signing statements to essentially say "I'll follow this law only if I want to", as he did with the anti-torture bill earlier this year. Here's an interesting analysis on whether Bush is playing the role of Andrew Jackson in Ol' Hickory II: The Veto Wars.

Of course, Bush recently used his first-ever veto to keep federal funding from supporting stem-cell research. Although I am a strong supporter of stem-cell research there is an obvious libertarian conflict point on this issue (in libertarian paradise, the feds wouldn't be funding this research anyway, it should happen through private investment). But since we are living in a decidedly un-libertarian world, funding things with legitimate promise (such as embryonic stem cells) is something I can get behind. If the government is going to spend my money, I'd like it to be spent well.

1 Comments:

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Janna said...

During one of their rare breaks from reporting on the Middle East, CBC Radio ran a short story on Bush’s ‘signing statements’. Unfortunately, I must have sneezed and missed most of it, so thanks for the lengthier coverage (the horse-moose hybrid story, however, received plenty of coverage!). I guess you’re probably thinking that some of that government funding should be heading your way instead of to the CBC...

 

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