Recently, President Obama signed a bill into law and then announced that he would not enforce (or at least feel bound by) a provision in the bill. Once again, President Obama has aggressively asserted executive power – in a way that prior Presidents have, but that he and Democrats criticized before he became President.
The law prohibited admittance to the U.S. by representatives to the United Nations determined to have “engaged in terrorist activity” against the U.S. or its allies. “Obama, in a signed statement attached to the measure, warned the legislation curtailed his “constitutional discretion” and that he planned to treat the law as ‘advisory.’” Obama could have vetoed the law, but he chose to sign it and then not regard it as legally binding.
There are several positions that one can have – based on the Constitution’s original meaning – in a situation where the President is presented with a bill that contains an unconstitutional provision.
1. One might believe the President has discretion to sign the bill and then to not enforce the unconstitutional provision. This appears more or less to be the position of Presidents of both parties.