Constitutional Obligations and Signing Statements:
In the wake of the controversy over Eric Holder's apparent decision to support the DC voting rights bill despite its likely constitutional problems, a lot of conservatives are advocating a position of strict constitutional duty: If the executive branch believes that part of a bill is unconstitutional, the executive must vote against the legislation. To do otherwise is to subvert the constitution and violate the constitutional oath.

  If you identify as a conservative and you feel that way, I have a question: Where were you during the Bush Administration? President Bush repeatedly signed legislation accompanied by signing statements indicating that the President believed that many parts of the laws were unconstitutional. As I understand it, the Bush Administration's approach was to sign the legislation despite the constitutional defects, with the stated intention to not follow the parts believed to be unconstitutional. To conservatives who think Holder's apparent support for the DC voting rights law subverts the constitution, I'm curious, what did you think of the former President Bush's regular practice of approving legislation he thought was unconstitutional?

  UPDATE: Some commenters argue that the key difference is severability: It's okay to sign unconstitutional legislation if the unconstitutional parts are severable, but a violation of the constitution to sign legislation if the constitutional parts are not severable. It's an interesting idea, although I suppose it means that the arguments are much more technical than I had thought. Is that's the objection, then the DC Voting Rights Bill can simply be joined with another bill that is constitutionally uncontroversial.