Get access

The Law: Contextualizing the Signing Statement


  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: I thank Lou Fisher for his invaluable comments on an earlier draft of this article.

Christopher S. Kelley is a visiting assistant professor of political science at Miami University (OH) and the editor of Executing the Constitution: Putting the President Back into the Constitution. His work focuses on the presidential signing statement and the unitary executive theory of presidential power.


The presidential signing statement became a public spectacle in 2006 after a news account claimed President George W. Bush used the signing statement to challenge the constitutionality of over 750 provisions of various bills he signed into law. Despite the coverage generated over Bush's use of the signing statement, most Americans still remain woefully uninformed of its history or purpose. This note will discuss what a signing statement is, how it has evolved, and ways to constrain its effect.