Past Event

Presidential Signing Statements

Should the President Have the Last Word?

9:00 - 10:30 AM EDT

Presidential signing statements, once a largely ceremonial instrument used to express a president’s views on legislation, have become in recent years a means by which the president can sign a bill while stating his intention to decline to enforce it, in whole or in part. Last April, Charlie Savage reported in The Boston Globe that President Bush had issued signing statements purporting to disregard over 750 legal provisions—more than all of his predecessors combined. This revelation has sparked a fierce debate. The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the practice and bills have been introduced that would limit its use. The Constitution Project issued a bipartisan report expressing concern and the American Bar Association (ABA) adopted a formal policy opposing the misuse of signing statements as contrary to the rule of law and the system of separation of powers.

In response, some former executive branch officials of both parties have argued that the president must be able to decline to enforce laws that he regards as plainly unconstitutional and that the use of signing statements for this purpose is constitutionally permissible.

Is this use of signing statements consistent with the Constitution? What is its effect on the system of checks and balances? What are the consequences of its use—or abuse? Please join the Center for American Progress and a distinguished bipartisan panel of experts, including two members of the ABA Taskforce on Presidential Signing Statements and the Separation of Powers Doctrine and a prominent critic of their report in a discussion of these issues and more.

Friday, September 29
9:00 A.M. to 10:30 A.M.
Admission is free

Center for American Progress
1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Map and Directions

Featured Panelists:
Mark Agrast, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Walter Dellinger, Douglas B. Maggs Professor of Law at Duke University, former Solicitor General
Mickey Edwards, lecturer at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and director of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership, Former Representative (R-OK)