The Logic of Presidential Signing Statements

Ian Ostrander, Joel Sievert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Signing statements constitute a salient executive power that has recently captured scholarly and political attention. Prior literature suggests that presidents use signing statements to gain additional policy concessions from Congress. Evidence of policy motivations are, however, difficult to demonstrate and policy motives fail to explain a wide range of existing statements. The authors propose an additional incentive mechanism based on defending traditional presidential authority. Using original data on approximately 8,500 public laws and 1,250 signing statements, the authors investigate when and why signing statements occur. They find presidents are likely to issue constitutional signing statements on bills traditionally falling under the president's purview.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • interbranch relations
  • presidential powers
  • residency
  • signing statements


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