I remember playing the board game Trouble with my young cousin Russell one afternoon. Like most children he enjoyed adding his own rules to the game. The problem was that he didn't want to follow them himself. To him it was great fun that I should have to lose a turn for rolling a 3, but when he rolled a 3 he felt that the rule need not apply.
This kind of thing may seem pretty harmless when applied to a kid's game, but I find it disturbing to know that this very thing happens within our government. How could this happen you ask? Through signing statements. A signing statement is a note that a president issues when he signs a law in which he can say which parts of it he does or doesn't intend to follow. This basically legally gives him the right to ignore certain laws and say "that doesn't apply to me."
I do understand how something like this could be necessary. For example, if there is one small part of a law that is unconstitutional it is much easier to correct it with a signing statement than have to revise and re-vote on the whole thing. The problem comes when president's abuse this power. Many of our nation's leaders have used and misused signing statements. Most notably, President George W. Bush is known to have issued a large number of them as a way of furthering his Unitary Executive Theory. According to "Read the Fine Print", a 2006 article from The New York Times , President Bush was able to practically eliminate parts of laws that contradicted his viewpoint using signing statements.

I personally think that these signing statements are a problem. If there is a problem with a law, it should be vetoed and given the chance to be fixed. I believe that once something is signed into law, no one should be able to get away with ignoring any part of it, not even the president. It is abuse of power like this that causes catastrophic problems with our countries politics.
Andy Schoenborn
3/17/2013 04:37:09 am

Hi Ian,

As a reader, I particularly enjoyed the introductory anecdote because it put your whole post into perspective. Well done.


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