KING GEORGE?

It was partly Sam Alito’s idea back in 1986 to take the rarely and sporadically used device of presidential signing statements and use them as a battering ram to increase executive power. For a couple of centuries barely two dozen were appended to laws. During Reagan, they became more popular, and were continued under the first Bush and Clinton. But under W, their use has exploded. By some estimates, this president has used them five times as often as any predecessor and has vastly increased their scope. When it comes to passing laws that affect any executive branch, including the military, this president has all but declared himself an independent body. My own take on this can be found here. The NYT has a story here. Not much has been written on this but there’s an excellent summary by Philip J. Cooper and original documents to back up his analysis here (click on the link that says “Public Law, Policy, and Public Administration”). This can be esoteric stuff, but it matters. If it means this president will continue to break the law and authorize torture, it matters a lot.

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