Bipartisan law breaking

Sam Smith

One of the problems in understanding what is happening in Washington is that if both major parties lie or break the law, the media tends to just go along with it.

A recent example is the case of Obama issuing signing statements allegedly exempting himself from having to obey Congress’ defunding of his czars.

To be sure, George Bush issued over a hundred of such statements, essentially saying “screw you” to the US Congress, not to mention the Constitution.

The problem in Obama’s case is that a few years ago, when he was seeking a new job, he promised “I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law.” The exceptions would be in cases in which Congress ordered to do something unconstitutional. Obviously, not funding czars – which a democracy shouldn’t have in the first place – doesn’t fall into this category.

But there is a much greater problem. The media just assumes that since both Democrats and Republicans have used them, they must be legal. In its coverage it totally – so far as Google can tell – failed to mention, for example, a 2006 American Bar Association Task Force that, as Wikipedia explains, “stated that the use of signing statements to modify the meaning of duly enacted laws serves to ‘undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers’ In fact, the Constitution does not authorize the President to use signing statements to circumvent any validly enacted congressional laws, nor does it authorize him to declare he will disobey such laws (or parts thereof). When a bill is presented to the President, the Constitution allows him only three choices: do nothing, sign the bill, or (if he disapproves of the bill) veto it in its entirety and return it to the House in which it originated, along with his written objections to it.”

In other words, Obama, like his predecessor, is clearly disobeying the Constitution. But worse, the Washington media isn’t even mentioning the problem because it has become unable to distinguish the difference between habit and the law.

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