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Public Papers - 1992 - August

Statement on Signing Legislation Extending Terms of Members of the United States Sentencing Commission


Today I am signing into law S. 1963, which permits Members of the United States Sentencing Commission whose terms have expired to continue to serve until either a successor takes office or the next session of the Congress ends.

The legislation does not specify whether it would apply to the current Members of the Commission. Were the Act read to apply to the current Members, it would appear to violate the Appointments Clause of the Constitution by, in effect, permitting the Members to extend the terms of the office to which they were appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Accordingly, I sign this legislation based on my understanding that it applies only to appointments made after the date of enactment of the Act, so as not to infringe on my constitutional appointment authority. This is in keeping with the well-settled obligation to construe ambiguous statutory provisions to avoid constitutional questions.

I note that this interpretation of the Act is supported by the fact that the Senate deleted from the Act a provision that would have expressly applied it to current Members of the Commission.

George Bush

The White House,

August 26, 1992.

Note: S. 1963, approved August 26, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 349.

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