Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Document: Obama Memo on Signing Statements

The White House has released President Obama's March 9 "Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies" on the subject of "Presidential Signing Statements." The full memo follows:

For nearly two centuries, Presidents have issued statements addressing constitutional or other legal questions upon signing bills into law (signing statements). Particularly since omnibus bills have become prevalent, signing statements have often been used to ensure that concerns about the constitutionality of discrete statutory provisions do not require a veto of the entire bill.

In recent years, there has been considerable public discussion and criticism of the use of signing statements to raise constitutional objections to statutory provisions. There is no doubt that the practice of issuing such statements can be abused. Constitutional signing statements should not be used to suggest that the President will disregard statutory requirements on the basis of policy disagreements. At the same time, such signing statements serve a legitimate function in our system, at least when based on well-founded constitutional objections. In appropriately limited circumstances, they represent an exercise of the President's constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and they promote a healthy dialogue between the executive branch and the Congress.

With these considerations in mind and based upon advice of the Department of Justice, I will issue signing statements to address constitutional concerns only when it is appropriate to do so as a means of discharging my constitutional responsibilities. In issuing signing statements, I shall adhere to the following principles:

1. The executive branch will take appropriate and timely steps, whenever practicable, to inform the Congress of its constitutional concerns about pending legislation. Such communication should facilitate the efforts of the executive branch and the Congress to work together to address these concerns during the legislative process, thus minimizing the number of occasions on which I am presented with an enrolled bill that may require a signing statement.

2. Because legislation enacted by the Congress comes with a presumption of constitutionality, I will strive to avoid the conclusion that any part of an enrolled bill is unconstitutional. In exercising my responsibility to determine whether a provision of an enrolled bill is unconstitutional, I will act with caution and restraint, based only on interpretations of the Constitution that are well-founded.

3. To promote transparency and accountability, I will ensure that signing statements identify my constitutional concerns about a statutory provision with sufficient specificity to make clear the nature and basis of the constitutional objection.

4. I will announce in signing statements that I will construe a statutory provision in a manner that avoids a constitutional problem only if that construction is a legitimate one.

To ensure that all signing statements previously issued are followed only when consistent with these principles, executive branch departments and agencies are directed to seek the advice of the Attorney General before relying on signing statements issued prior to the date of this memorandum as the basis for disregarding, or otherwise refusing to comply with, any provision of a statute.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.


By Web Politics Editor  |  March 9, 2009; 4:57 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Primary Source  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama Pulls Back from Signing Statements
Next: POTUS Events: Obama on Education


As it was noted on the previous thread, GWB did not issue as many "signing statements" as Clinton and McCain promised to eliminate them all together had he been elected.

Posted by: JakeD | March 10, 2009 1:41 AM | Report abuse

"Oh saint! How DO you get through the day??"

By skipping on his meds, looks like.

Posted by: nodebris | March 10, 2009 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Change I can believe in! Yes, every day another example or two. Today it is signing statements and stem cell research. Thank you America for electing this man to be our president.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | March 9, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama promised change, so here it is. Should be no qualms from Congress on this decision...

Posted by: parkerfl1 | March 9, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

It appears there are one or two...shall we say...unusual comments here. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, and I assure you this is no melodrama but is real and is happening, I would like to inject a note of urgent rational warning.
Considering the abuse to which our Constitution has been subjected I question exactly what President Obama has on his mind. I appreciate his references to transparency in government, because that is as it should be in a free society.
As a Constitutional scholar President Obama certainly knows the Constitution and is familiar with the writings by this nation's founders regarding the reasons for the guarantees granted us by our Bill of Rights and our Constitution. Our founders were very wise and put a great deal of thought into the rights they guaranteed under the Constitution. Rights which are, and have been under an insidious attack of a kind this nation has never experienced. Our leaders are sworn to uphold the Constitution, yet they instead look for ways to circumvent it, alter it, render it meaningless.
During the two administrations of George W. Bush we witnessed an unprecedented attack upon our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and I fear more is on the way. The Republicans take away our rights to privacy, due process, and property, and the Democrats are already scheming to do away with our right to keep and bear arms. Do people truly not understand that if the Liberals disarm us the Fascists will own us? That the loss or even the lessening of just one right opens the door to the loss of another? Do we wish to be free citizens in a nation dedicated to liberty, or would we prefer to be subjects at the mercy of a nation which controls every aspect of our lives? We must not surrender the rights and freedoms so many fought to establish and defend, yet I see few people who are willing to do so much as contact an elected official. What is this? Is it supposed to be someone else's job? It's everyone's job! Speak with someone who escaped the tyranny of a nation like North Korea or Cuba, and hear what they have to say about the dangerous complacency of Americans.
Stand up and be counted! Make your voice heard or our rapacious federal government will drive the final nail into our Constitution's coffin! God help us.

Posted by: meand2 | March 9, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh saint! How DO you get through the day??


Posted by: toritto | March 9, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse


President Obama does not yet seem to be cognizant of a frightening reality -- that the Bush "torture memos" were used to justify "programs of personal destruction" that REMAIN IN PLACE ON HIS WATCH.

Obama must come to realize that federal agencies and commands have enabled the ONGOING covert microwave radiation weapons torture and physical degradation of U.S. citizens deemed "undesirables," "mental defectives" and "dissidents"... well as the nationwide GPS-enabled "community gang stalking" of U.S. citizens, who are hunted down like prey by citizen vigilante goons as "target" vehicles and implanted GPS devices enter the "crown of evil" GPS screen grid of the gang-stalkers.

It appears that Obama and most liberal/progressives have yet to realize that the "war on terror" appears to have been a premeditated pretext for an American genocide/politicide -- a horrific silent holocaust that has destroyed, and continues to destroy, untold thousands, if not millions, of American families and no doubt has contributed to economic tumult.

One person who WAS aware, and deserves vindication, is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

What has been happened since the dawning of the Bush administration has turned a just society into the "US of KKK-A," as harsh and impolitic as that sounds.

And the 21st century version of the Klan -- an American Gestapo -- remains on the march -- hiding behind covert federal "programs of personal financial destruction" and federally-funded community policing and town watch programs co-sponsored by local law enforcement nationwide.

President Obama must act immediately to restore American civil and human rights -- because each day he delays, the forces running these programs, the forces who will resist whatever "change" his presidency offers, are one day closer to making it impossible him to fulfill the "hope" he still embodies.

For more on "Gestapo USA" and why team Obama must move immediately to dismantle the Bush-Cheney "extrajudicial punishment network"...

PS. -- Anyone reading this with access to decision-makers on Team Obama (notably, David Axelrod) and in Congress: Please send them this missive.

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 9, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Gongress, yeah that's right GONGress, doesn't have a clue what's contained in most of the legislation they and their buddies pass. It looks like Obama wants to have a hands off policy too, even though its his responsibility to execute the laws passed by Gongress. That leaves it up to the bureaucrats. Unelected, largely accountable to no one (unless they happen to tick off a big player), they work in anonymity. Yeah, that's a smart move. Hope the ACLU likes having the drones in charge.

Posted by: magellan1 | March 9, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Just as Transparent as Mud! :-(

I am beginning to know FEAR of a BADLY Elected Person!

Posted by: SAINT---The | March 9, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: donaldtucker | March 9, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company