The sweep of the signing statements

The Boston Globe finds that Bush has declared himself free to disregard more than 750 federal laws.

Tim Grieve
May 1, 2006 9:29PM (UTC)

We knew that George W. Bush has used signing statements to declare his freedom to disregard acts of Congress, but we'll admit to having had no idea that the practice was this pervasive: According to a Boston Globe analysis, Bush has "quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office."

Bush's signing statements first drew our attention when he signed away the prohibition against torture in the prohibition against torture Congress passed last year. Then he did it again after Congress reupped the Patriot Act, purporting to sign out of the legislation's provisions that would have made congressional oversight possible.


We assumed that these were relatively rare acts, reserved for legislation that got at the heart of Bush's war on terrorism. But the Globe says that Bush has declared himself free to ignore all sorts of laws, including but not limited to "military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, 'whistle-blower' protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research."

The White House says Bush is just doing what other presidents have done. The Globe says that's not so. The president, the paper says, has been "far more" aggressive "than any predecessor" in "declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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