Bar News - June 23, 2006
ABA Forms Task Force on Signing Statements
After reports emerged that the Bush administration has significantly expanded the use of presidential signing statements, some say as an alternative to the line-item veto, the ABA has formed a task force to examine the practice.
Pledging to take a comprehensive and historical view of presidential signing statements, the 10-member Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements and the Separation of Powers Doctrine is on a tight schedule and is expected to come up with a report and recommendations in time for the ABA Annual Meeting this August in Honolulu.
ABA President Michael S. Greco of Boston says he asked the Board of Governors, which met in New Orleans recently, to approve the task force because the use of presidential signing statements has created separation-of-powers issues. Greco emphasized that the issue is not limited to the current administration but also dates back to the Reagan era.
Indeed, it was under former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese that presidential signing statements were developed to broaden executive power.
Chaired by Miami lawyer Neal R. Sonnett, the task force includes former FBI Director William S. Sessions (who was hired by Reagan and fired by Clinton); Patricia M. Wald, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (appointed to the court by President Jimmy Carter); former U.S. Rep. Mickey Edwards, R-Okla.; George Washington University law professor Stephen A. Saltzburg; and Bruce Fein, who was associate deputy attorney general under Reagan.