July 24th, 2006

Unitary Executive Theory—read: “Load of Crap”

Remember in fifth grade when you learned about how our government works, and how our government is strong and moves forward because of a system of “checks and balances”?

Your fifth grade teacher would be appalled to learn about a loophole used by Presidents today to circumvent those checks and balances. It’s called the “Unitary Executive Theory“.

Under this theory, the President can subjectively decide which laws he thinks are constitutional, and which are not.

An example of this is when President Bush signed the Patriot Act into law. He essentially picked and chose which parts of the act he wanted to follow.

From the above-linked article:

[U.S. Senator Patrick] Leahy noted that it is not a “unitary executive” theory but a unilateral executive approach that violates the President’s constitutional responsibility to see that all the laws are faithfully executed.

And now, an American Bar Association task force has stepped in to say just that: the unitary executive theory is an unconstitutional load of crap.

ABA policymakers will decide whether to denounce the statements and encourage a legal fight over them.

The task force said the statements suggest the president will decline to enforce some laws. Bush has had more than 800 signing statement challenges, compared with about 600 signing statements combined for all other presidents, the group said.

Taken to an extreme, this “theory” sounds a little like:

And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land. (Alma 51:5)

[UPDATE: Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa, is readying a bill that will allow Congress to sue President Bush in federal court for his signing statements. ]

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