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Even this doggerel that pours from my pen

[ 22 ] June 18, 2011 |

Has just been written by another twenty telepathic men.

A question that interests me is, how many of the 21 GOP representatives who signed this letter actually have doubts about the constitutionality of bills signed by a presidential auto pen? As a legal matter, the claim that such a practice is unconstitutional is frivolous, for at least three reasons. First, as this neurotically comprehensive treatment of the issue by the OLC demonstrates, there wasn’t even a common law requirement at the time of the Constitution’s drafting that “signing” a document meant “signing it personally.”

Second, as the OLC memo also points out, nobody has ever argued that bills have to “presented” to the president by literally handing them over to the POTUS, or that the president has to walk over to Congress to “return” a vetoed bill.

The OLC memo doesn’t mention the most ridiculous aspect of this issue, which is that presidents don’t even need to sign bills at all (if Congress is in session, a bill that isn’t affirmatively vetoed becomes law in ten days whether it has been signed or not).

My guess is that a few of the letter’s signatories are representatives of the kind of magical legal thinking one finds on the far right, where Militia Men argue that the federal income tax is unconstitutional because Ohio wasn’t “really” a state at the time the 16th amendment was ratified etc. etc.

Most of them, however, are probably indulging in yet another cynical de-legitimation ploy, giving their constituents just one more reason to believe that Obama is somehow not exactly a real president, doing real presidential things.

Comments (22)

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  1. skidmarx says:

    Do you wish they had been deep-frozen too?

    Cannot El Presidente just throw a sign like one of his terrorist fist bumps?

  2. Murc says:

    You know, I love me some legal technicalities, but this is just absurd. What would a handsless President be required to do, hold the pen in his mouth?

    I get that these guys are paranoid about the evil judiciary lopping off their Patriot Act phallus, but come on now. The only way something like would be unconstitutional is if someone used it to ‘sign’ a bill without a President’s knowledge or consent, like the time one of his patients stole my father’s signature stamp and a prescription pad. That didn’t make those prescriptions real ones, and it didn’t invalidate the ones my dad DID stamp himself.

  3. UberMitch says:

    I find the best part of the OLC memo to be its final page:

    /s/
    HOWARD C. NIELSON, JR.
    Deputy Assistant Attorney General
    Office of Legal Counsel

  4. Jestak says:

    It’s worth noting, in this context, that one signer of the Constitution itself did not sign the document personally. John Dickinson was unable to attend the final meeting of the Convention, and authorized his fellow delegate from Delaware, George Read, to sign for him.

  5. DrDick says:

    Excuse me, but you expect serious legal and historical scholarship (or even basic knowledge) from Republican politicians? Have you been asleep for the past 30 years?

  6. herr doktor bimler says:

    I for one appreciate any Hawkwind / Bob Calvert shout-outs. Or shouts-out. Whichever is correct.

  7. LosGatosCA says:

    I want to see the long form proof that every governor of every state that ratified every constitutional amendment personally signed every ratification per the original intent of the founding fathers.

    If that can’t be done, every penny of income tax’has to be refunded, every woman’s vote excluded and every past election Where women voted nullified, and all the slaves returned to their rightful owners. Or the white people can exercise their second Amendment rights.

    Also, Texas can secede when Hale – Bopp returns, too.

  8. Tirxu says:

    Is it clear that President Obama had the right to delegate Bin Laden’s execution meeting with justice to team six?

    Next time, he should do the deed himself, with his bare hands, not some “automatic” rifle.

  9. bill says:

    May the person who coined the “may you live in interesting times” curse live in interesting times his own damn self. These times are a little too interesting for me, thank you very much.

    Can we please have the Fifties back again, this time without the legalized segregation? I’d almost be willing to relive my shitty childhood if it meant we’d have a functioning democracy again.

  10. greylocks says:

    My guess is that a few of the letter’s signatories are representatives of the kind of magical legal thinking one finds on the far right….

    Most of them, however, are probably indulging in yet another cynical de-legitimation ploy…

    These are by no means disjoint sets.

  11. fourmorewars says:

    Sorry to go OT, but I got a complaint.

    Some dipstick on fb was piming Rick Perry, so, wanting to get some ammunition to fire back, I googled ‘lefarkins’ and ‘rick perry.’ The best resulting hit I saw took me to your archive page. The blurb in question had two hyperlinks, one to a New Yorker article on Perry’s malfeasance in that innocent-dad-accused-arsonist execution. Good, I thought. But, after I waited for things to settle down, i.e. all the ads and whatnot to be loaded, and was ready to click the links, the page shifted without my asking it to, shifted to this here homepage. I went back (wouldn’t let me backpage to the archive, had to go to the google page and re-hit it), and I was set to try again, and the same fucking thing happened.

    Soooo, something’s fucked up with your archives. Too bad, you were my first choice, but obviously won’t be next time.

  12. gocart mozart says:

    They are playing a game called “make the negro dance.”

  13. RAM says:

    Back in the 19th Century, original land patents out here in Illinois always carried the President’s signature. But with so much land coming on the market as the states of the Old Northwest Territory were finally surveyed, it was taking up too much of the chief executive’s time. So after July 4, 1836, Congress authorized the president to appoint a secretary to sign his name on land patents, sort of a flesh and blood autopen. Are the Republicans suggesting that every land patent issued by the federal government after July 4, 1836 is invalid?

    • ajay says:

      Are the Republicans suggesting that every land patent issued by the federal government after July 4, 1836 is invalid?

      Your ideas are of interest to me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

      Regards,
      The Sioux Nation.

  14. Hogan says:

    the kind of magical legal thinking one finds on the far right

    Well, maybe, but this is totally true.

  15. Sean says:

    That is quite an amazing letter that does seem to play on some deep seated anxiety of the right wing that the President is some impersonal object, without constitutional status or signature.

  16. Halloween Jack says:

    At least we know which GOP reps are the hard-core birthers, the ones who will spend every last day of his or their government service trying to play “Mother May I” with every last little thing that Obama does. Clearly, they believe in the principle of government by rules lawyer.

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