header image
Home Page
Hear Past Shows
About Us
January 26, 2020

Note: Justice Talking's grant funding expired in 2008 and the project has been closed. This website is an archive of the entire run of Justice Talking shows through June 30, 2008.
It is no longer being maintained. We apologize for any stale or broken links.
Featured Program

Photo by: AFP/Getty Images
Presidential Signing Statements
Last Featured: 12/4/2006

Listen to Full Program
(Windows Media Player Required)

Download the MP3
(Right-click and choose 'Save As...'
from the pop-up menu.)

Read Along with the Transcript
(Acrobat PDF file.)

Read Along with Closed Captions
(For assistance viewing captions,
click here .)

Justice Learning Listening Guide
(Acrobat PDF file.)

Note: Justice Talking ceased production on June 30 of 2008. Link information on this site is not maintained and is provided for historical interest only. Although correct when posted, The Annenberg Public Policy Center makes no claim as the the accuracy or continued availability of any third party web links found on this site.

Presidents have long used signing statements to add their views on legislation they dislike but won’t veto. President Nixon used them to point out excessive expenditures in spending bills. President Carter used them to make sure that Congress did not encroach on executive duties established by the Constitution. But President George W. Bush has used them more frequently than any other president, over 700 times since taking office. Join us on this edition of Justice Talking when we look at the use and abuse of presidential signing statements. Are they a legitimate statement of the president’s interpretation of a law? Do they establish how federal agencies must enforce the law? Or do they violate separation of powers by usurping the courts’ power to set the meaning of contested laws?

Interview with a Journalist
Host Margot Adler asks Boston Globe Reporter Charlie Savage what presidential signing statements are and how the current administration is using them differently than past administrations.

Charlie Savage covers legal affairs and homeland security for the Washington bureau of the Boston Globe. He was born in 1975 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and he later earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard College and a master's degree from Yale Law School. Savage is currently on leave writing a book about executive power. It is scheduled to be published by Little Brown in the fall of 2007.

Listen to Audio:
Windows Media
MP3 Version
Debate on Signing Statements
Former Republican congressman Mickey Edwards and law professor Christopher Schroeder discuss the history of signing statements and debate the constitutional implications of their use.

Mickey Edwards is a lecturer at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the executive director of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership. He was a Republican member of Congress from Oklahoma for 16 years (1977-92), during which time he was a member of the House Republican leadership and served on the House Budget and Appropriations committees. He serves on the board for the Constitution Project and is member of the Coalition to Defend Checks and Balances. He has taught at Harvard, Georgetown, and Princeton universities. In addition, he is currently an advisor to the U.S. Department of State and a member of the Princeton Project on National Security.

Christopher Schroeder is a professor of law and public policy studies and the director of the Program in Public Law at Duke University. He is also co-chair of the Separation of Powers and Federalism issue group for the American Constitution Society’s Project on the Constitution in the 21st Century. Schroeder has served as deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel and chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee. Along with other former officials of the Office of Legal Counsel, Schroeder authored a statement on presidential signing statements that disagrees with portions of the American Bar Association’s special task force report on the same subject.

Listen to Audio:
Windows Media
MP3 Version
Interview with a U.S. Senator
Host Margot Adler speaks with outgoing chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, about the current administration's reliance on signing statements to reinterpret laws passed by Congress.

Senator Arlen Specter is Pennsylvania's senior senator. He was elected to the Senate in 1980 and is currently serving his fifth term. In 2005, he became Pennsylvania's longest serving senator. He is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and the Veterans Affairs Committee. On the Appropriations Committee, Senator Specter also plays a key role as chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, which oversees federal funding for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and educational programs like Head Start, Pell grants, and GEAR-UP.

Listen to Audio:
Windows Media
MP3 Version
Interview with a Lawyer
Host Margot Adler talks to legal scholar Laurence Tribe about signing statements, the Constitution, and what the future holds.

Laurence Tribe is a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School and the Carl M. Loeb University Professor. He is the author of "American Constitutional Law" (1978), the most frequently cited treatise in that field, and has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court 36 times.

Listen to Audio:
Windows Media
MP3 Version
©1999-2020 University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved. Any Justice Talking program downloaded or podcast from this site is for personal use only. Any Justice Talking program, or portion of it, may not reproduced, publicly distributed or displayed, used to create a derivative work, or otherwise copied or transmitted to a third party, in any format now known or hereafter discovered, except as expressly permitted by Law.

To request permission to use Justice Talking audio, please contact support.
Join the Debate
NOTE: Justice Talking Blogs and Forums have been closed.
Special Announcements
Justice Talking’s last broadcast & podcast was June 30, 2008.
U.S. Department of Justice
Signing Statement Examples - Boston Globe
John W. Dean - Findlaw
UCSB - Presidential Signing Statements: Hoover to Bush
ABA Task Force Report (PDF)
Bradley & Posner Defense of Signing Statements (Manuscript - PDF)
The Constitution Project
Coalition to Defend Checks and Balances (PDF)
Legal Theory
Committee for Justice
Georgetown Law Faculty
Legal Redux
Presidential Power in America: 2006 Conference at the Massachusetts School of Law
Keeping a Watchful Eye: The Politics of Congressional Oversight
by Joel D. Aberbach
Power without Persuasion: The Politics of Direct Presidential Action
by William G. Howell
Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom
by John V. Denson (Editor)
Unchecked and Unbalanced: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror
by Frederick A. O. Schwarz, Aziz Z. Huq
On the Docket
Highlights of the Supreme Court Term
The Roberts Court