June 19, 2007

Jonathan Schwarz has a great catch on Bush's signing statements.

When Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe first began writing stories about Bush's presidential signing statements last year, former Bush administration lawyers told us not to be concerned:

Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who until last year oversaw the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for the administration, said the statements do not change the law; they just let people know how the president is interpreting it.

''Nobody reads them," said Goldsmith. ''They have no significance. Nothing in the world changes by the publication of a signing statement..."

As a new story by Savage explains, that's apparently now inoperative:

Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, defended Bush's use of signing statements and his expansive view of the president's constitutional powers.

"We are executing the law as we believe we are empowered to do so," Fratto said. "The signing statements certainly do and should have an impact. They are real."

So which is it? Maybe some enterprising White House reporter can ask Tony Snow about it....

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