On NPR today, ABA president Michael Greco offered a number of vapid arguments against President Bush’s use of signing statements. My favorite: Greco was particularly upset that the President has vetoed only one bill. By expressing constitutional objections in signing statements rather than vetoing bills, Greco complained, the President has deprived Congress of the opportunity to override his vetoes. (I’m not making this up.)
Earth to Greco: If Congress were to override a veto, the President could still, in administering that law, adopt exactly the same position that he would have set forth in a signing statement. He could do so, for example, in a public statement issued on the occasion of the override or at any time in the actual implementation of the law. Nothing about a veto override affects the president’s ability and duty not to enforce laws that he regards as unconstitutional.
For very different reasons than Greco, I wish that the President more often exercised his veto power. But only a badly confused mind would see a president’s failure to veto bills as evidence of an executive-branch power grab.