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. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    What is Graves major malfunction, "The Pen Policeman".

    June 17, 2011 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  2. 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!

    June 17, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Matt

    Wow. What a waste of time.

    June 17, 2011 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  4. Rhonda

    Wow. Signing a document is much more important than creating jobs, helping flood & tornado victims, and withdrawing troops from Iraq & Afghanistan-NOT! What, exactly are we paying these yahoos for? Because it obviously is not to serve the constituents-its to create drama.

    June 17, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. Cfrench

    I for one hope the republicans keep this crap up. The independants that voted for these clowns in 2010 have to be getting fed up with this relentless persuit of the "evil black man". All the stuff they promised was immediately thrown out the window when they were sworn in. All they've done is god this, gay that, guns this, abortion that. Nothing for the economy, nothing for jobs. The republicans are in for a big surprise come 2012.

    June 17, 2011 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. kakaraka

    Really? Does this wacoo Graves think he is above the White House and he can dictate to him? Really? Another waste of time the GOP house is spending. Where are the jobs you promised the american people you fooled last election? Where are they?

    June 17, 2011 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  7. Sandy

    Why are these Republicans always thinking they can "demand" that the President to whatever they want? And signing bills in person is what they are working on, not creating jobs? LOL

    June 17, 2011 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  8. a in austin

    I'd love to see these same reps sign off on a jobs bill!

    June 17, 2011 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  9. Bgrngod

    With Weiner resigning, the GOP has to shift it's attention to a new headline...

    June 17, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  10. Biggge

    These GOP guys are just trying to hold down the jobs, what a waste of time.. The days of Obama did this, Obama did that is getting old...Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Graves what is your plan for jobs in your state or is that Obama's fault U have no plan.. Stop playin in Congress and get some work done....Not one piece of legislation introduced by the GOP on jobs... Outragous....

    June 17, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    Demand all you want.


    June 17, 2011 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    Georgia – is this what you elected him to do? So every person in Georgia must already have a job, since he has nothing better to do for the people.

    June 17, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. Ex-Republican

    Republicans stop wasting our time. Do something about the jobs you promised.

    June 17, 2011 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. Candide

    Another non-issue devised by the GOP to discredit the President. If you want to go strictly by the constitution Mr. Graves, you and your cronies should be doing your jobs in Congress and creating legislation for the benefit the American people. You may not have heard, but the middle class is in crisis because we have exported our manufacturing jobs overseas in order to maximize corporate profits, which go untaxed, and the service economy that we have become is now under attack by outsourcing. How about a jobs program? Any thoughts? The GOP is in for a big surprise in 2012.

    June 17, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. sbp

    So if a President had lost both arms in a war and had prosthetic – MECHANICAL- arms/hands, would he not be able to pass any laws? I mean, signing with a mechanical device, either way.

    June 17, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. thnkgn

    Wow. This guy must be really a dinosaur or just wanting a headline. Yes, let's make the office of President less effective by having him to stay in DC and never be able to travel.
    I want to know who the other 21 idiots are that we put in office last November and wasting our time on something that doesn't matter and makes no sense to argue about to begin with, instead of working like real issues like the economy, education, etc.
    They are acting like a bunch of brats that are looking for entertainment.

    June 17, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. sbp

    While we're at it, should a President be allowed to wear glasses? Technology/mechanical device coming between his eyes and very important documents!

    June 17, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Expat American

    The Party of Genocide Over Policy (GOP) are installing once again their dirty scum tactics. John Boner’s laughable ‘drinkin’ beers in my daddy’s bar BS’ tears from election night was all a ploy, as usual. While they still have no solutions or suggestions about jobs (because they never do and never did), they want to keep distracting and deflecting the issue while focusing on pens. So that in a few months, jobs will be their platform, along with their tired 'values' – which only really means "Brown Non Christians are all Terrorists" . At least the Genocide Party is consistent.

    June 17, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. gt

    and yes they want it to be a quill pen .... and he must be brought to the signing on a horse... unbeleivable trivial....

    June 17, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Remember this when Republicans start blowing horns about Obama not creating jobs. The President only signs legislation, but the House must create it, vote on it, and pass it on to the Senate. Besides, it was the Republicans who promised us jobs if given the opportunity to have a majority. And if Obama wishes to sign the Republican jobs bill with that robotic pen of his, then good for him. At least it means that we have a jobs bill.

    June 17, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. LegendRx

    We missed the Rude Awakening . . . now get ready for the after shock! Hold on to your shackles.

    June 17, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Ex-GOP Con

    WTF?! Where are the JOBS GOP/TEA?

    Come into the 21st century like the rest of America. Things are done electronically. Ridiculous waste of taxpayer's time.

    The right IS becoming deranged.

    June 17, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. Kwesoe

    What kind of politicians are these Republicans? All the time you spend on these trivial issues could be better spent on creating jobs. You passed a bill that was signed by the president. Who cares if he signed it with his toes? Your salaries should be ducked for the time you wasted on writing that stupid letter and you should reimburse the cost for staff and office supplies.

    June 17, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. Glenn from Cary

    I think the President should grant the congressmen their request for a do-over. But this time he should veto the damn thing. That would be a real patriotic act.

    June 17, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    And how many times did Dubbya use the auto pen? Or did he have Karl Rove sign them for him? At least President Obama has not issued "signing statements" with just about every piece of legislation explaining why he will not follow the bill that was passed that he signed into law, ala Dubbya.

    June 17, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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