Bench Memos

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Bruce Fein and Signing Statements


Some two decades ago a White House lawyer by the name of John G. Roberts complained of his Reagan Administration colleague Bruce Fein’s “unalloyed jurisprudential iconoclasm.” In his point 3 here, Matt Franck passes along (and I have independently confirmed) the hilarious news that Fein is the primary draftsman of Senator Specter’s bill on presidential signing statements.  Fein is also a member of, and apparently the driving force behind, the ABA’s task force on signing statements.  As I stated when the task force was announced, “I find the idiosyncratic Fein provocative and interesting, but it’s rather striking that the Left, which previously dismissed him as a kook, now regards him as a sage (or as a useful kook?).” 


The bizarre and wrongheaded position that the ABA task force adopts—that the president’s only option, when presented a bill that has a provision that he believes is unconstitutional, is to veto the bill—is exactly the position that Fein expressed when the task force was constituted.  That he bamboozled all the other members of the task force—including prominent liberal academics who ought to know better—to embrace his position would seem to indicate how blinded they are by their hatred of President Bush.


Tags: Whelan


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