Monday, June 05, 2006

American Bar to investigate Bush

The American Bar Association is the membership organisation of the law profession in the United States. And they are concerned enough to begin an investigtation into one aspect of the Imperial Presidency. Since Bush has taken office he has signed over 750 pieces legislation into law with one exception. In each case he attached a letter say that the law can not and does apply to the presidency. For instance the US Congress reiterated US opposition, by law, to the use of torture. President Bush reserved for his office the right to use torture! Bush could not get the Patriot Act, with all its Big Brother clauses, approved the way he wanted. So Republicans introduced it with some oversight provisions which placated the far too tame Democrats. Then when Bush signed the law he attached a letter saying he has the right to ignore the oversight provisions, without which it would never have passed. This is what I mean by the Imperial Presidency.

The American Bar Association is concerned about this rampant use of these "signing letters" as an attempt to say that the Presidency is not bound by the law of the land. Bush has alredy said he can ignore the courts if he wishes and said that the Constitution should not stand in the way of his crusade to save America. Without the law, without the courts, without the Constitution, precisely what is there to limit the powers of the presidency? Nothing. The Bar Association says that Bush's actions raise serious constitutional questions. And they have brought a distinguished panel of lawyers, judges and others together, both Democrat and Republican, to investigate the matter.

That will not do help the Republicans in their attempt to cling to power in spite of the backlash against Bush. One member of the investigating committe is conservative Republican, and former Congressman, Mickey Edwards. Edwards says: "I think one of the most critical issues in the country right now is the extent to which the White House has tried to expand its powers and basically tried to cut the legislative branch out of its own constutionally equal role, and the signing statements are a particularly egregious example of that." Retired Judge William Sessions, who worked for Reagand and the elder Bush said: "I think it's very important for the people of the United States to have trust and reliance that the president is not going around the law."

This investigation is just more fodder for the antiBush campaign. It is good to see an emphasis on the Constitution as the basis of law. It has been ignored too long. And while Bush is not the first to ignore it, nor the last I fear, he is certainly the most blantant in disregarding Constitutional separations of power. This investigation will be worth watching.