Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Separation of Powers Issue to Nail Bush?

Conyers prepares to nail the criminal president's hide to the hull

Rep. John Conyers, Jr.Full Committee Oversight Hearing on Signing Statements

by Rep. John Conyers, Jr.
Chairman, House Committee on the Judiciary


(01/31/07) - Today we are holding our first oversight hearing in the Judiciary Committee of the 110th Congress.

Many have joined me in expressing concern about the growing abuse of power within the Executive Branch. This President has tried to take unto himself absolute authority on issues such as surveillance, privacy, torture, enemy combatants, and rendition. Today we are taking up the very important item of Presidential signing statements, which supposedly give him the power to ignore duly enacted laws he has negotiated with Congress and signed into law.

All too often, the Administration has engaged in these practices under a veil of secrecy. This is a constitutional issue that no self-respecting federal legislature should tolerate. And so, we announce that out of this oversight hearing we will today begin an investigation of the specific use and abuse of presidential signing statements.

In particular, I intend to ask the Administration to identify each and every statutory provision they have not agreed with in signing statements, and to specify precisely what they have done as a result. For example, if the President claims he is exempt from the McCain Amendment ban on torture, I want to know whether and where he has permitted it. And we want to know what has he done to carry out his claims to be exempt from many other laws, such as oversight and reporting requirements under the [USA] PATRIOT Act, numerous affirmative action obligations, and the requirement that government obtain a search warrant before opening the mail of American citizens.

I am also going to ask my staff, along with Ranking Member Smith’s staff, to meet with the Department of Justice and the White House so we can get to the bottom of this matter, and to be blunt, we are not going to take no for an answer. We are a co-equal branch of government, and if our system of checks and balances is going to operate, it is imperative that we understand how the Executive Branch is enforcing--or ignoring--the bills that are signed into law.

Last summer, the American Bar Association appointed a distinguished task force which carefully studied this problem. They found that as of last year, President Bush had challenged no fewer than 800 legal provisions, far more than all previous Presidents combined. Republican and Democrat alike, they reached a unanimous conclusion, which was endorsed by the entire ABA House of Delegates: this use of signing statements is "contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers." Today, we are here to explore that conclusion, and then to take action.

We are talking here about systematic, extra-constitutional conduct by the White House. That conduct threatens to deprive the American people of one of the basic rights of any democracy [sic]--the right to elect representatives who determine what the law is, subject only to the President’s veto. That does not mean having a President sign those laws, but then say that he is free to carry them out or not, as only he sees fit. [Source] Digg It!

See also: How a Bill Becomes a Signing Statement

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The above from the Yannone blog found here

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Click Here for a post regarding a Connecticut account of the alleged violation of separation of powers regarding Congressman Joe Courtney, Connecticut Attorney General Blumenthal, and Judge Jonathan J. Kaplan.

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