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Specter introduces bill allowing Congress to challenge presidential signing statements

[JURIST] US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website] Wednesday introduced legislation [S 3731] that would give Congress the power to bring lawsuits in federal court [JURIST report] to challenge presidential bill signing statements [1993 DOJ backgrounder] the constitutionality of which is in question. President Bush has used the signing statements to bypass particular provisions that he considers unconstitutional, even though he has signed the bill that includes them - perhaps most notably a law that bans the torture of prisoners held by the US. An American Bar Association task force concluded [JURIST report] earlier this week that Bush's signing statements "undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers." The administration has defended Bush's use of the statements [JURIST report] as "indistinguishable" from that of other presidents.

Democrats in Congress are broadly expected to support Specter's proposed bill, while Republican senators such as Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Trent Lott (R-MS) [official websites] have voiced their opposition. Reuters has more.

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