William & Mary Law Review


During the Bush presidency, presidential signing statements became briefly controversial. The controversy has faded, but the White House continues to issue statements when signing legislation. Those statements frequently point out constitutional difficulties in new statutes and sometimes warn that the executive branch will administer the statutes so as to avoid those constitutional difficulties. This Article argues that the criticisms of signing statements were mostly misguided. Signing statements as such present few problems and offer some benefits to the workings of the American political system. While there might be reason to object to the substantive constitutional positions adopted in any given signing statement, signing statements as such are mostly unobjectionable. Although it might be preferable for Presidents to veto constitutionally problematic legislation, modern legislative practices have made the veto power less useful and rendered signing statements more useful.