Members urge President's in-person signature
June 17th, 2011
11:36 AM ET
12 years ago

Members urge President's in-person signature

(CNN)– Twenty-one House members are demanding President Obama re-sign the recently-renewed Patriot Act–this time, in person.

Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Graves sent a letter sent Friday to the White House–signed by the 21 members–calling for the President to abandon the use of autopen in signing bills passed by Congress.

On May 26, Obama was away in Europe when the Patriot Act's extension bill came across his desk with a midnight deadline. In order to meet the time demand, the White House signed the bill by autopen, a tool that copies an individual's exact signature, to sign the legislation.

Lawmakers, including the President, often use the device on Christmas cards, photographs, and letters mailed en masse.

But Graves says the autopen has no place on bills that become law. The congressman has been critical of the president's technical signature since it happened in May, but in the letter sent to Obama, he and other representatives wrote the practice "appears contrary to the Constitution."

With the Constitution written far before technology like the autopen was invented, the clause in Article I, Section 7 does not outline specific rules for the president's signature. It simply states: "If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it."

This isn't the first time a president's signature has been the subject of debate. In 2005, President George W. Bush's Office of Legal Counsel said a president didn't have to physically sign a bill, as long as he approves it. This gave Bush authority to direct surrogates to sign bills for him.

However, Graves cites in his letter several dissenting opinions to the 2005 decision and claims the issue could go to court. Along with asking the president to re-sign the bill, the letter also brings up Obama's Oath of Office redo.

"We recall you retaking the Oath of Office on January 21, 2009, over similar concerns for adhering to the Constitution, and believe your signing legislation passed by the United States Congress is of equal importance," the letter said.

This is the second time Graves has reached out to the White House on the subject. The letter states he has yet to receive a response from the president.

- CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Aaron

    These guys campaigned that they'd make more jobs, get the economy on track. But, apparently, all they have time for is a bunch inconsequential nonsense like a live versus a mechanical signature.

    June 17, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    These people are truly sick.
    Do the really pretend to keep this President from using modern technology that was approved by the previous President?
    What time do they propose he comes in from the cotton fields to serve them mint juleps?

    June 17, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Positive

    GOP members are working on any & every silly thing except the one they ran on – JOBS. The economy has been slipping since they've been elected and bullied their way to extending the tax cuts to the wealthy that they promised was the solution to the economy & employment (even though even the architects of trickle down admitted it was a failure years ago & now advocate for tax increases).

    It's time the public stop accepting this nonsense rhetoric.

    June 17, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. TB

    This is stupid! Don't these GOP idiots have anything better to do than to constantly "nitpick" at just about everything this President does? Grow up already!

    June 17, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. Marie MD

    GRAVES where are the JOBS your party promised???????
    Stick with real issues and stop telling the world how useless the party of hell no, except for the rich znc corporations reallybis.
    Once again WHERE ARE THE JOBS????????????????¿

    June 17, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. Katie

    Oh good lord, what a waste of time. There are better things to worry about than whether or not Obama signed this thing in person. The signature is the same either way.

    June 17, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  7. ric

    Liberal elite=anyone with an education

    Oh, for Pete's sake – JOBS you morons! Despite what you may have been told by FOX, you weren't elected just to ensure President Obama fails. Do your stinkin' job and at least propose a jobs bill, instead of every social conservative/ anti-Democrat goose chase you can dream up!------------------------------------

    Wow, for someone with a screen name like yours you really do show how stupid and uneducated liberals really are.

    June 17, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. ric

    Barry is to busy playing golf and working on how he can radically remake america into a socialist failure like Europe.

    June 17, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. TB

    This just in...a hidden camera, placed in the Oval Office bathroom a few days ago, has just caught our President wiping his butt with (gasp!) his LEFT hand instead of his right hand! Republican leaders are outraged and will be making a statement this evening denouncing our President's use of the "wrong" hand while wiping as "unpatriotic and unamerican behavior."

    June 17, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    for pete's sake President Obama is well-versed in CONSTITUTIONAL LAW – so I imagine after he finished snickering over the letter he put it down for the first dog, Bo to do his business on- I know I would have.

    June 17, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. EatRunDive

    If Republicans want to do something useful concerning the president signing bills, they could ban those multiple souvenir pen, signing ceremonies. Don't politicians realize how stupid that looks to their constituents?

    June 17, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. AEC

    How about Pres. Obama DOESN'T resign the Patriot Act, it's allowed to expire, and then we, the American people, get some of the freedoms back that we've foolishly given away over the last 9.5 years. The Patriot Act doesn't make us any safer. All it does is give the government a pass so they can ignore the Constitution.

    PS: Love the anti-GOP circle jerk you guys got goin here. I think they're a bunch of hacks too, but you guys are really priceless.

    June 17, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. Oregon Calling

    Don't sign.

    Peace 🙂

    June 17, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. Pravaa

    Wow. Just cannot believe that they have the time and brain cells to come up with such nutcase requests. The country is going to hell in a handbasket and they are worried about this. Wow. Just Wow.

    June 17, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Dave Jaipersaud

    I guess the Republicans would never come to grips with the fact that the world is a different place today that when the Constitution was written. They always seem to want to go back to the days when there were no washing machines, blender, efficient stoves, dishwashers, computers, internet, limites rights for women and people of color, etc, etc....

    Are these guys idiots. No wonder the Chinese and Indians are outperforming us.

    June 17, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  16. John Sullivan

    Tom Graves is DEMANDING, give us a break clown, just do what you were elected to do. Just another republican with no ideas. Grow a pair Ms Graves and quit whinning over petty crap.

    June 17, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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