As has been clear for some time, the Bush administration lacks an understanding of and/or a belief in the most basic principles of our system of government.
Here is Tony Snow today (via Atrios), defending the president's "signing statements" and responding to this question: "But isn't it the Supreme Court that's supposed to decide whether laws are unconstitutional or not?"
Snow: "No, as a matter of fact the president has an obligation to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. That is an obligation that presidents have enacted through signing statements going back to Jefferson. So, while the Supreme Court can be an arbiter of the Constitution, the fact is the President is the one, the only person who, by the Constitution, is given the responsibility to preserve, protect, and defend that document, so it is perfectly consistent with presidential authority under the Constitution itself."
Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Papers No. 78: "The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts ... It equally proves, that though individual oppression may now and then proceed from the courts of justice, the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter; I mean so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the legislature and the Executive. For I agree, that there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers."
James Madison, in Federalist Papers No. 47: "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."