Today President George W. Bush for the first time vetoed a bill - one calling for increased stem cell research; however, he has actually negated parts of hundreds of bills he has signed into law, says Miami University political scientist Christopher Kelley.
More than all U.S. presidents before him, President Bush has negated 807 provisions of law, contained in more than 100 signing statements, according to Kelley.
Kelley, visiting assistant professor of political science at Miami, says the signing statements challenge provisions of bills the president signs into law with caveats that allow the president to construe or excise those provisions that he deems constitutionally defective.
The public has hardly been aware of the president's use of signing statements, adds Kelley.
Kelley has been studying signing statements for about 10 years. His 2003 doctoral dissertation at Miami provided the first systematic examination of what the signing statement is, how it is used, and why it has become important to the executive branch in the past 30 years.
President Reagan adopted the strategy and used it 95 times, President H.W. Bush used them 232 times to challenge laws and President Clinton 140, according to Kelley's count. All other presidents before them issued a total of 109 constitutional challenges.
Kelley is editor of the just-publishedExecuting the Constitution: Putting the President Back into the Constitution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (513) 529-3959 (w) or 513-405-3915 (cell).