Mightier than the Sword

Fri Jun 17, 4:25 pm ET
Republicans unite against autopen, ask Obama to re-sign Patriot Act

Last month, we reported that an autopen, not President Obama, signed the Patriot Act extension into law.

Some questioned the legality of using a machine instead of getting the president himself to sign a law, but the White House argued it was legit.

However, that explanation wasn’t good enough for some Republicans in Congress.

On Friday 21 House Republicans sent a letter to the president expressing their disdain for the mass-signature facsimile machine. The missive calls for Obama to re-sign the Patriot Act in person.

“Mr. President, it is clear that assigning a surrogate the responsibility of signing bills passed by Congress is a debatable issue, and could be challenged in court,” the lawmakers wrote. “That being the case, our request is that, out of an abundance of caution, you affix your signature to S. 990 [The Patriot Act extension] by personally re-signing the enrolled bill.”

[You can read the full letter here (pdf) via CBS News.]

The Republicans are calling on Obama to  cease using the autopen, and citing several dissenting opinions they say argue against the practice’s constitutionality.

Obama used the autopen in May because provisions of the Patriot Act were set to expire while the president was en route to the G-8 world economic summit. The White House immediately defended the decision, saying it is permitted under the Constitution.

A White House spokesman told CBS Friday that the president does not feel a need to re-sign the Patriot Act extension by hand.



If the Autopen signature is not legal, the Patriot Act has expired.

You cannot re-sign into law something that has ‘sundowned’.

If Congress wants a new Patriot Act, they better start crafting one now.


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