The Law: The Obama Administration's Evolving Approach to the Signing Statement


Todd Garvey is a legislative attorney with the Congressional Research Service's American Law Division. The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not presented as those of the Congressional Research Service or the Library of Congress.


After utilizing constitutional signing statements with relative frequency during the first six months of his administration, President Obama issued only two such statements over the next 18 months, including a stretch of almost 16 months without a single constitutional signing statement. While it is unclear exactly how the administration will proceed, there is evidence to suggest that other interpretive mechanisms, such as opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel and Statements of Administration Policy, could potentially play an increased role as a partial substitute for the politically unpopular signing statement.