Presidential signing statements

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Presidential signing statements are short documents that the President of the United States may issue when signing a bill into a statute. Presidents can use these documents for just about any commentary purpose they choose: to describe a bill, to explain the bill's purpose, to praise the bill's sponsors, or to interpret particular provisions of the bill. However, it is important to note that signing statements do not carry the force of law. To illustrate, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York faced this question in DaCoast v. Nixon, when Presidential Nixon issued a signing statement stating that the bill he just signed into law did not represent the policies of his administration and was without the force of law. The District Court held that no signing statement by the President, or any executive statement for that matter, that “den[ied] efficacy to the legislation could have either validity or effect.”

[Last updated in December of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]