President Obama pledged not to attach any signing statements, or little notes saying you'll ignore certain legislative language on constitutional grounds, to new laws back when he was a candidate. He broke that pledge in about two seconds. And in his latest signing statement — appended to the just-passed budget deal to fund the government through September — Obama announced that he's just going to ignore that bit of legislative language defunding his "czars," a terribly Russian term for "advisers."
Obama's "czars," much like George W. Bush's "czars," are advisers appointed by the president to offer advice about and help oversee certain problem areas. These mandarins do hold real positions within the federal bureaucracy; they aren't actual autocratic warlords raping and pillaging the Turks. (Maybe.) But since they don't have to go through Senate confirmation, opposition-party Senators love to pick on them.
Section 2262 of the Act would prohibit the use of funds for several positions that involve providing advice directly to the President. The President has well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch, and to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority. The President also has the prerogative to obtain advice that will assist him in carrying out his constitutional responsibilities, and do so not only from executive branch officials and employees outside the White House, but also from advisers within it.
Legislative efforts that significantly impede the President's ability to exercise his supervisory and coordinating authorities or to obtain the views of the appropriate senior advisers violate the separation of powers by undermining the President's ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Therefore, the executive branch will construe section 2262 not to abrogate these Presidential prerogatives.
Full speed to the next conquerable Turkish village, czars. (And czarinas!)
[Image via AP]