Archive for the ‘ H. Price Jessup, Jr. ’ Category

Presidents from Monroe to Obama have used Signing Statements.

Presidents from Monroe to Obama have used Signing Statements.

For my last article I explored the issue of Executive Orders and the Executive Branch.  The bookend to this subject is something a bit more controversial: Signing Statements.  According to The American Presidency Project, Signing Statements are:

“Often signing statements merely comment on the bill signed, saying that it is good legislation or meets some pressing needs.  The more controversial statements involve claims by presidents that they believe some part of the legislation is unconstitutional and therefore they intend to ignore it or to implement it only in ways they believe is constitutional.”

Just as Executive Orders have not always been known as such, the same is true with Signing Statements.  In 1822 President James Monroe issued what we today call a Signing Statement saying that “he had resolved what he saw as a confusion in the law in a way that the thought was consistent with his constitutional authority.”

Click to continue reading “Signing Statements and the Presidency”

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In a Representative Democracy such as the United States, most people are familiar with what a law is, many people know how a bill differs from a law, but most probably do not understand what an Executive Order is.  Surely a week does not pass that it is not reported someplace that the President of the United States either signed an Executive Order to put into place a new policy or to rescind a previous one.  The situation can be confusing because the President of the United States is generally not understood to be someone who makes law.

The President of the United States is the head of the Executive Branch and he or she has some explicit powers and some gray ones.  The president can, for example, lead the country in making decisions regarding foreign affairs, nominate individuals for the Supreme Court, or in the role as “commander-in-chief ” lead the military.  But the president’s authority is not absolute as any treaty he or she negotiates with a foreign power must still be approved by Congress, nominees to the Supreme Court must be confirmed by the Senate, and any troop deployments over 60 days must be authorized by Congress due to the War Powers Resolution.  So, while the power of the president seems great it is, like virtually every other area of the U.S. government, subject to checks and balances.  One area in which the president can have a great deal of power is in the area of the Executive Order.

Click to continue reading “Executive Orders and the Law”

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The borders of Washington, D.C.

The borders of Washington, D.C.

Off the radar but inside the corridors of the U.S. Capitol an attempt to give the nation’s capitol city, Washington, D.C., voting representation in Congress has been raging.  Supporters of voting representation in the House of Representatives for the Americans living in D.C. fall into two camps: those who seek full statehood for the District of Columbia with all of the rights statehood would provide, and those who just want a Congressman of their own to represent D.C. interests in the House. The latter group have enlisted the help of a somewhat unlikely ally in the form of the State of Utah.

The challenges of granting statehood for the District of Columbia are tremendous as the U.S. Constitution places some very tough requirements for adding an amendment and there are only four ways that a constitutional amendment can be added:

  • Proposal by convention of states, ratification by state conventions (never used)
  • Proposal by convention of states, ratification by state legislatures (never used)
  • Proposal by Congress, ratification by state conventions (used once)
  • Proposal by Congress, ratification by state legislatures (used all other times)

The Founding Fathers made it difficult to amend the U.S. Constitution because they wanted to ensure that such additions were made only when the greatest numbers of people agreed, thereby safeguarding the Constitution as much as possible from immediate, but short-lived, political concerns.

Click to continue reading “Voting Rights for D.C. Take a Step Forward”

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