Thursday, February 25, 2010

Doug Cassel: "If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?"
John Yoo: "No treaty"
Are treaties laws?
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CRS report on Signing Statements [PDF]
Conclusion
Presidential signing statements have a long historical pedigree and there is no discernible constitutional or legal impediment to their issuance. While such statements have become increasingly common since the Reagan Administration and have increasingly been utilized by Presidents to raise constitutional or interpretive objections to congressional enactments, that increased usage does not render them unconstitutional. While the broad assertions of executive authority contained in these statements carry significant implications, both practical and constitutional, for the traditional relationship between the executive branch and Congress, they do not have legal force or effect, and have not been utilized to effect the formal nullification of laws. Instead, it appears that recent administrations, as made apparent by the voluminous challenges lodged by President George W. Bush, have employed these instruments in an attempt to leverage power and control away from Congress by establishing these broad assertions of authority as a constitutional norm. It can be argued that the appropriate focus of congressional concern should center not on the issuance of signing statements themselves, but on the broad assertions of presidential authority forwarded by Presidents and the substantive actions taken to establish that authority. Accordingly, a robust oversight regime focusing on substantive executive action, as opposed to the vague and generalized assertions of authority typical of signing statements, might allow Congress in turn to more effectively assert its constitutional prerogatives and ensure compliance with its enactments.
Every congressman has fantasies of being president and they all act now more in service to that dream, and of individual authority, than in defense of the prerogatives of the chamber where they sit. Adversarialism and divided government requires that a president be a philosophical individualist, while the congressional ethic be fundamentally tribal. How's that for divided consciousness? I'll add that example to my usual one of the ethic of military piety and the divided consciousness of the citizen soldier.

Not something liberals or academic "philosophers" understand.

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