Signing Statements are Back in Vogue

Hat-tip to Gordo: Bush is using a signing statement to ignore a recently passed law that codifies the privacy of the mail.

The law requires government agents to get warrants to open first-class letters.

But when he signed the postal reform act, Bush added a statement saying that his administration would construe that provision “in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent permissible, with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances.”

As in many other cases, the signing statement contains a weasel term that supposedly covers Bush’s ass. The maximum permissible extent was established in the law Congress had just passed: it’s illegal for the US government to read people’s mail without a warrant.

Phrases like “the maximum extent permissible” give the impression that the law is just an inconvenience to be surmounted. A few constitutionalists believe something like that, with “permissible” defined only constitutionally; however, there is no serious constitutionalist argument for the Patriot Act(s) and Homeland Security Bill.

3 Responses to Signing Statements are Back in Vogue

  1. Bushbaptist says:

    So when are you going to get rid of GeeWee? Firstly you need to get rid of Cheney and Rove. Then nail Bush.
    The question is; does ye average US citizen have the courage to do that??

  2. Alon Levy says:

    Well, the Constitution does, if everyone’s willing to wait two more years.

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