Presidential Signing Statements, 10669-10670 [E9-5442]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 46 / Wednesday, March 11, 2009 / Presidential Documents 10669 Presidential Documents Memorandum of March 9, 2009 Presidential Signing Statements Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments And Agencies For nearly two centuries, Presidents have issued statements addressing constitutional or other legal questions upon signing bills into law (signing statements). Particularly since omnibus bills have become prevalent, signing statements have often been used to ensure that concerns about the constitutionality of discrete statutory provisions do not require a veto of the entire bill. In recent years, there has been considerable public discussion and criticism of the use of signing statements to raise constitutional objections to statutory provisions. There is no doubt that the practice of issuing such statements can be abused. Constitutional signing statements should not be used to suggest that the President will disregard statutory requirements on the basis of policy disagreements. At the same time, such signing statements serve a legitimate function in our system, at least when based on well-founded constitutional objections. In appropriately limited circumstances, they represent an exercise of the President’s constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and they promote a healthy dialogue between the executive branch and the Congress. With these considerations in mind and based upon advice of the Department of Justice, I will issue signing statements to address constitutional concerns only when it is appropriate to do so as a means of discharging my constitutional responsibilities. In issuing signing statements, I shall adhere to the following principles: 1. The executive branch will take appropriate and timely steps, whenever practicable, to inform the Congress of its constitutional concerns about pending legislation. Such communication should facilitate the efforts of the executive branch and the Congress to work together to address these concerns during the legislative process, thus minimizing the number of occasions on which I am presented with an enrolled bill that may require a signing statement. rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with MISCELLANEOUS 2. Because legislation enacted by the Congress comes with a presumption of constitutionality, I will strive to avoid the conclusion that any part of an enrolled bill is unconstitutional. In exercising my responsibility to determine whether a provision of an enrolled bill is unconstitutional, I will act with caution and restraint, based only on interpretations of the Constitution that are well-founded. 3. To promote transparency and accountability, I will ensure that signing statements identify my constitutional concerns about a statutory provision with sufficient specificity to make clear the nature and basis of the constitutional objection. 4. I will announce in signing statements that I will construe a statutory provision in a manner that avoids a constitutional problem only if that construction is a legitimate one. VerDate Nov<24>2008 18:51 Mar 10, 2009 Jkt 217001 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4790 Sfmt 4790 E:\FR\FM\11MRO0.SGM 11MRO0 10670 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 46 / Wednesday, March 11, 2009 / Presidential Documents To ensure that all signing statements previously issued are followed only when consistent with these principles, executive branch departments and agencies are directed to seek the advice of the Attorney General before relying on signing statements issued prior to the date of this memorandum as the basis for disregarding, or otherwise refusing to comply with, any provision of a statute. This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person. This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register. THE WHITE HOUSE, Washington, March 9, 2009 [FR Doc. E9–5442 Filed 3–10–09; 11:15 am] VerDate Nov<24>2008 18:51 Mar 10, 2009 Jkt 217001 PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4790 Sfmt 4790 E:\FR\FM\11MRO0.SGM 11MRO0 OB#1.EPS</GPH> rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with MISCELLANEOUS Billing code 3195–W9–P

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[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 46 (Wednesday, March 11, 2009)]
[Presidential Documents]
[Pages 10669-10670]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-5442]




                        Presidential Documents 



Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 46 / Wednesday, March 11, 2009 / 
Presidential Documents

[[Page 10669]]


                Memorandum of March 9, 2009

                
 Presidential Signing Statements

                Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments And 
                Agencies

                For nearly two centuries, Presidents have issued 
                statements addressing constitutional or other legal 
                questions upon signing bills into law (signing 
                statements). Particularly since omnibus bills have 
                become prevalent, signing statements have often been 
                used to ensure that concerns about the 
                constitutionality of discrete statutory provisions do 
                not require a veto of the entire bill.

                In recent years, there has been considerable public 
                discussion and criticism of the use of signing 
                statements to raise constitutional objections to 
                statutory provisions. There is no doubt that the 
                practice of issuing such statements can be abused. 
                Constitutional signing statements should not be used to 
                suggest that the President will disregard statutory 
                requirements on the basis of policy disagreements. At 
                the same time, such signing statements serve a 
                legitimate function in our system, at least when based 
                on well-founded constitutional objections. In 
                appropriately limited circumstances, they represent an 
                exercise of the President's constitutional obligation 
                to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and 
                they promote a healthy dialogue between the executive 
                branch and the Congress.

                With these considerations in mind and based upon advice 
                of the Department of Justice, I will issue signing 
                statements to address constitutional concerns only when 
                it is appropriate to do so as a means of discharging my 
                constitutional responsibilities. In issuing signing 
                statements, I shall adhere to the following principles:

1. The executive branch will take appropriate and timely steps, whenever 
practicable, to inform the Congress of its constitutional concerns about 
pending legislation. Such communication should facilitate the efforts of 
the executive branch and the Congress to work together to address these 
concerns during the legislative process, thus minimizing the number of 
occasions on which I am presented with an enrolled bill that may require a 
signing statement.

2. Because legislation enacted by the Congress comes with a presumption of 
constitutionality, I will strive to avoid the conclusion that any part of 
an enrolled bill is unconstitutional. In exercising my responsibility to 
determine whether a provision of an enrolled bill is unconstitutional, I 
will act with caution and restraint, based only on interpretations of the 
Constitution that are well-founded.

3. To promote transparency and accountability, I will ensure that signing 
statements identify my constitutional concerns about a statutory provision 
with sufficient specificity to make clear the nature and basis of the 
constitutional objection.

4. I will announce in signing statements that I will construe a statutory 
provision in a manner that avoids a constitutional problem only if that 
construction is a legitimate one.

[[Page 10670]]

                To ensure that all signing statements previously issued 
                are followed only when consistent with these 
                principles, executive branch departments and agencies 
                are directed to seek the advice of the Attorney General 
                before relying on signing statements issued prior to 
                the date of this memorandum as the basis for 
                disregarding, or otherwise refusing to comply with, any 
                provision of a statute.

                This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, 
                create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, 
                enforceable at law or in equity by any party against 
                the United States, its departments, agencies, or 
                entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any 
                other person.

                This memorandum shall be published in the Federal 
                Register.
                
                
                    (Presidential Sig.)

                THE WHITE HOUSE,

                    Washington, March 9, 2009

[FR Doc. E9-5442
Filed 3-10-09; 11:15 am]
Billing code 3195-W9-P