Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Arlen Specter's greatest hits

Senator considers suit over Bush law challenge - The Boston Globe

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Arlen Specter, said yesterday that he is "seriously considering" filing legislation to give Congress legal standing to sue President Bush over his use of signing statements to reserve the right to bypass laws.

Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, made his comments after a Judiciary Committee hearing on signing statements, which are official documents that Bush has used to challenge the constitutionality of more than 750 laws when signing legislation .

Bush has issued more signing statements than all previous presidents combined. But he has never vetoed a bill, depriving Congress of any chance to override his judgment. If Congress had the power to sue Bush, Specter said, the Supreme Court could determine whether the president's objections are valid under the Constitution.

"There is a sense that the president has taken the signing statements far beyond the customary purviews," Specter said at the hearing. He added that "there's a real issue here as to whether the president may, in effect, cherry-pick the provisions he likes, excluding the provisions he doesn't like. . . . The president has the option under the Constitution to veto or not."

But a lawyer for the administration, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michelle Boardman, testified that Bush has shown Congress respect by using signing statements instead of vetoes when he has concerns about parts of bills.

"Respect for the legislative branch is not shown through [making a] veto," Boardman argued. "Respect for the legislative branch, when we have a well-crafted bill, the majority of which is constitutional, is shown when the president chooses to construe a particular statement in keeping with the Constitution, as opposed to defeating an entire bill that would serve the nation."
At which point, Specter, broke out in song with this little-known "Wizard of Oz" outtake:

I could while away the minutes
Strengthening the Senates
Confoundin' Mike DeWine
The rule of law I'd favor
Lady Liberty, I'd save her
If I only had a spine.

The Bill of Rights I'd honor
More than Sandy Day O'Connor
Separate powers I'd define
Bush's over-reachin'
It's quite wrong I'd be a-teachin'
If I only had a spine.

Oh, I could tell you why
The Constitution weeps
I'd talk about the crimes of the neocon creeps
And how the Senate soundly sleeps

I would not be just a nuffin'
My torso full of stuffin'
My power undermine(d)
Impeachment they're deservin'
And subpoenas I'd be servin'
If I only had a spine.

Specter then collapsed in a gelatinous mound and agreed never to bring up the subject again.


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