Today's Blogs

Attorneys Against Bush

Bloggers are unsurprised by the latest finding that President Bush has sidestepped the Constitution. They also diss the ACLU for defending a notorious gay-baiting minister and can’t help but side with the blue marlin that stuck a Caribbean fisherman.

Attorneys against Bush: The American Bar Association has concluded that the president has routinely violated the Constitution by drafting post-hoc exceptions to bills he has signed. These signing statements give the executive the right to futz with, or dismiss, provisions of a new law he deems unconstitutional. Bush alone has issued 800 in his six-year tenure, while his predecessors have issued just 600 combined.

New Jersey lefty Walldon at Scatablog writes: “I don’t think there’s any serious question that he’s exceeding his constitutional authority and violating the law. Nevertheless, since he will probably be successful in blocking any court from rendering a decision on this, a clear unambiguous statement from the ABA would be helpful even though it has no force of law nor official imprimator.”

“When the president vetoes a bill, with sufficient votes the Congress can override his veto,” submits Terry Hull at liberal-leaning Terra Extraneus, which melds news, law, media, and religion. “By signing bills into law but stating upfront that he has no intention of obeying them, the president avoids confrontation and political embarrassment, and then just does whatever he chooses. In other words, this president, more than any other in our history, believes that he is above the law.”

However, conservative Ed Whelan at the National Review’s legal blog Bench Memos offers the following object lesson in defense of signing statements: “Let’s assume that the President has signed into law a defense appropriations bill that he believes essential for the national defense. One provision of the bill provides that ABA president Michael Greco shall immediately be detained, displayed in public stocks, and subjected to ridicule until he confesses to what a partisan hack he is. The President recognizes that, alas, this provision is unconstitutional. Can anyone seriously maintain that the President’s only constitutional option, once he has signed the bill, is to implement that provision until such time as some court rules it unconstitutional?”

In the comments section of liberal site Dvorak Uncensored “Sagrilarus” points out how Bush has made a rod for his own back with these measures: “The idea of a ‘signing statement’ is to describe the ‘frame of mind’ of the president when he signed it. This is useful when the courts become involved in interpreting the law, as historically the judges involved have turned to their opinion of the lawmaker’s frame of mind at the time the law was written…Bush calls these judges ‘Activist Judges’ and declares that they need to be done away with — that they are a scourge on the country.”

Cody Herche at legal site Legal Redux says signing statements are kosher because Article II of the Constitution vests executive power (which Herche defines) in the office of the president: “Several states give their executives broad authority to change the legislature’s bills. Some have line item veto, allowing the governor to radically alter the impact of a law. All depend on the executive to enforce the new law.”

Read more about the ABA’s findings. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick weighed in on presidential postscripts earlier this year. Timothy Noah examines one particularly egregious signing statement here.

Reaction’s retainer: The ACLU filed a lawsuit Friday in the U.S. District Court in Missouri on behalf of Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist congregation headed by Rev. Fred Phelps. Phelps regularly leads protests at funerals of slain U.S. soldiers, whose deaths he says were decreed by God for defending a country that tolerates homosexuals.

Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters is appalled: “Fred Phelps could get a lawyer on his own; the ACLU and its donors have no obligation to assist him in mocking the loss of family members at funerals. The ACLU has put itself on par with these soulless freaks, and their donors should take note that their money now supports the Phelps traveling hate show.”

Sci-fi novelist John Scalzi at Whatever sees the ACLU as equal-opportunity offenders: “[T]his will be a fine case to point out the next time someone blatherates about the ACLU just being for godless liberal freaks. Clearly it’s for the fundamentalist conservative freaks, too.”

Andy at Towleroad, a blog “with homosexual tendencies,” is OK with the lawsuit if only because “Fred Phelps’ message — that the U.S. is incurring God’s wrath because of its tolerance towards gays and lesbians — is a message that should be heard if only because it shows the world the kind of irrational bigotry the gay community faces on a daily basis and enshrines Westboro Baptist as a group of certified nutjobs.”

Read more about the ACLU’s latest client.

Payback’s a fish: Man bites dog in the deep blue sea. A fisherman off the coast of Bermuda was speared in the chest by an 800-pound blue marlin. Bloggers await the “this big” anecdotes about grandpa’s sternum sutures.

Malcolm Lambe at Welcome to Wallyworld remembers his first marlin nab: “The deck was absolutely covered in buckets of red blood and I’ll never forget the sight of the poor bloody marlin staring at me with its big round eye and then all the beautiful reds and greens and blue and silver fading from its body as the spike was rammed through its brain. Brutal shit. All for a small trophy head.” Lambe concludes: “Don’t know about you, but I’m rooting for the fish.”

I’m a huge Hemingway fan,” minutes photographer Sam Harrelson, “but it’s always great to see Mother Nature putting humanity in its place. …”

Read more about the marlin who fought back.