Secrecy News

New Presidential Memoranda

“If scientific and technological information is developed and used by the Federal Government, it should ordinarily be made available to the public,” according to a new memorandum on “Scientific Integrity” that was issued by President Obama on March 9.

Another presidential memorandum promises to limit the use of “presidential signing statements” that raise constitutional objections to provisions of enacted legislation.  President Obama said that whenever he issues such a signing statement, he will “make clear the nature and basis of the constitutional objection.”  By contrast, many signing statements that were produced by the Bush White House employed broad, formulaic objections whose scope and precise application were unclear.

3 thoughts on “New Presidential Memoranda

  1. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that President Obama will continue to use the signing statement, and to do so in a way that infuriated many on the Left. The memorandum states that he reserves the right to challenge provisions of bills that he believes violates some part of the Constitution. His difference from the Bush administration is a promise to be clear about what the objection is related to and to be clear about what constitutional principle has been violated, rather than simply saying it violates “the unitary executive.” For those critics of the Bush administration, they must be prepared to be equally as vocal when President Obama raises his first constitutional objection–and by the mere fact that the memo has been issued–should not be too far down the road.

  2. There’s a hell of a lot of difference between pointing out how a bill may violate the constitution and expressly saying “we are not bound by this law due to our bizarro world theory of the unitary executive.”

    The objection to Bush’s signing statements occurred because he basically used them to say “sorry, we’ll do what we want regardless of this law.” This is not at all what Obama is proposing to do. He’s proposing to essentially challenge congress to create a better bill that does not, from Obama’s point of view, violate the constitution.

    To equate Bush’s use and Obama’s proposed use of signing statements is equating apples and oranges. Let’s wait until Obama actually issues a signing statement before proclaiming he’s doing exactly what Bush did.

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