Monday, March 22, 2010

Executive Power and Signing Statements

Many people believe that the unprecedented expansion of presidential power was the defining feature of the Bush presidency. Much of this expanded executive authority was accomplished through the use of signing statements--written comments issued by a president at the time of the signing of a bill. In the past, signing statements were nothing more than commentary by a president on the appropriateness or timeliness of certain legislation. Since the Bush Administration, however, signing statements have been used to effectively veto parts of legislation that the President believes to be unconstitutional, or with which he does not agree. President Obama seems to be continuing in the footsteps of his predecessor in his frequent use of signing statements ( ).

After reading the New York Times article linked below, do you think the presidential use of signing statements is justified given the president's role as Commander-in-Chief and his duty "to faithfully execute the law in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution" especially in this post-9/11 world? Or do you believe that the use of signing statements undermines the notion of separation of powers as conceived by our Founding Fathers? Please justify your answer with specific reference to the article.'s%20Embrace%20of%20a%20Bush%20tactic%20riles%20Congress&st=cse

Monday, March 8, 2010

Do corporations have free speech first amendment rights?

A landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling recently stripped away restraints on corporate political spending opening the door for a barrage of corporate-sponsored campaign advertising in upcoming elections. By a 5 - 4 vote, the Court overturned two of its own decisions as well as the decades-old law prohibiting companies from funding their own candidate ads. The Court held that the ads constitute free speech and, as such, are protected by the First Amendment.

After reading the article linked below, please answer one or more of the following questions:

Do you agree with the Supreme Court's decision to allow corporations to direct unlimited funds to ads that target specific candidates for election?

In a broader sense do you believe that a corporation should have first amendment rights? A corporation is defined as an institution made up of individuals. Would our founding fathers agree with the Supreme Court's position? (Check out the Washington Post report).

Do you think we should go to a system of public financing of presidential election campaigns to make elections more fair?