Watch CBSN Live

Obama Wants Review Of Signing Statements

President Barack Obama has ordered a review of his predecessor's so-called signing statements, which often told officials how to implement laws.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that Mr. Obama has sent memos to federal agencies directing them to review former President George W. Bush's signing statements.

When signing legislation, Mr. Bush often would use such statements to direct officials to ignore parts of the law he thought were incorrect or restricted the administration's constitutional powers.

Gibbs said presidents have used such statements to note potential problems and Mr. Obama planned to continue that practice. But Gibbs said Mr. Obama would not use those signing statements to completely disregard Congress' intent.

"There will still be signing statements, but they will be used as sparingly as they were before the previous administration," said CBS News Chief Legal Analyst and Legal Editor Andrew Cohen. (Read his analysis here.)

In a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies, Mr. Obama said that he knows that the practice of signing 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," Mr. Obama wrote in the memo. "At the same time, such signing statements serve a legitimate function in our system, at least when based on well-founded constitutional objections."

The memo also outlines intentions that the administration will notify Congress of any constitutional concerns about pending legislation in order to limit the use of signing statements.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue