Friday, July 21, 2006 Inside Washington: Bar association task force urges Congress to push for judicial review of Bush signing statements

In a report to be released Monday, [an ABA] task force will recommend that Congress pass legislation providing for some sort of judicial review of [Bush's] signing statements. Some task force members want to simply give Congress the right to sue over the signing statements; other task force members will not characterize what sort of judicial review might ultimately emerge.

To mount a legal case, a person or group must have been granted 'standing,' or the right to file a lawsuit. Current law does not grant members of Congress such a right, and recent Supreme Court decisions have denied it in all but very exceptional cases. But Congress could consider bypassing that hurdle by writing a law to give its members the right to sue, a resolution in the task force's report declares, a source familiar with the task force report told U.S. News.

The resolution cannot become official aba policy without approval from the group's legislative body, scheduled to meet in Hawaii next month. There, the ABA will review four other resolutions, three directed to the president and one to Congress. The first three ask the president not to use signing statements as a kind of shortcut veto. If the president thinks a bill or part of a bill is unconstitutional, one of these resolution declares, he should feel free to say so -- but he should do that before he signs it, not after. The other resolution suggests Congress craft legislation to make signing statements more transparent and more accessible. Currently, signing statements are not sent directly to Congress, and they are often ambiguous in their intent.

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