Magazine article Mother Jones

W's Poison Pen

Magazine article Mother Jones

W's Poison Pen

Article excerpt

Ever since the days of James Monroe, presidents have used signing statements to comment on new laws. Over the nation's first two centuries, such statements had challenged a total of 600 statutes; the Bush administration alone has challenged 800 statutes. This staggering total, and the way the White House has used them to essentially claim that Congress has no power over its decisions, has alarmed constitutional scholars, lawyers, and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Below, a sampling:

Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

The Law Said: Corporate whistleblowers giving information to government agencies or Congress will be protected from retaliation.

Buih Said: Only whistleblowers who squeal directly to the congressman or a committee that is investigating the relevant issue will be protected. This interpretation, said Senator Charles Crassley (R-lowa), means the statute only applies to people "who are lucky enough to find the one member of Congress out of 535 who happens to be the chairman of the appropriate committee who also just happens to already be conducting an investigation, even though the problem identified may not have come to light yet."

Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006

The Law Said: Future FEAAA administrators (unlike patronage appointee Michael "Heckuva Job" Brown) must have some background in disaster management and "not less than 5 years of executive leadership and management experience."

Bush Said: The statute "rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified. …

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