I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case, upon the parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while they are entitled to very high respect and considerations, in all parallel cases by all other departments of the government. And while it is obviously possible that such a decision may be erroneous in any case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to the particular case, with the chance that it may be overruled and never become precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time the candid citizen must confess that if a policy of the government upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers having to that extent, practically resigned their government, into the hands of eminent tribunal.
"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. Were the federal Constitution, therefore, really chargeable with the accumulation of power, or with a mixture of powers, having a dangerous tendency to such an accumulation, no further arguments would be necessary to inspire a universal reprobation of the system."
The purpose seems to be to clarify, from the President's point of view, what the law says, as the clarity of complex laws is often not great.
Under Meese's direction in 1986, a young Justice Department lawyer named Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote a strategy memo [PDF] about signing statements. It came to light in late 2005, after Bush named Alito to the Supreme Court.
In the memo, Alito predicted that Congress would resent the president's attempt to grab some of its power by seizing 'the last word on questions of interpretation." He suggested that Reagan's legal team should 'concentrate on points of true ambiguity, rather than issuing interpretations that may seem to conflict with those of Congress."
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