Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA): Fear The Autopen!

|
May 27, 2011 11:42 a.m.

President Obama’s use of a mechanical “autopen” to sign the new PATRIOT Act extension from abroad has at least one Republican lawmaker worried about a “dangerous precedent.” According to Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), using a machine to sign legislation could one day bring about a dystopia in which robotic writing utensils are used to enact all manner of phony legislation.

“I thought it was a joke at first, but the President did, in fact, authorize an autopen to sign the Patriot Act extension into law,” Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) said in a statement. “Consider the dangerous precedent this sets. Any number of circumstances could arise in the future where the public could question whether or not the president authorized the use of an autopen. For example, if the president is hospitalized and not fully alert, can a group of aggressive Cabinet members interpret a wink or a squeeze of the hand as approval of an autopen signing? I am very concerned about what this means for future presidential orders, whether they be signing bills into law, military orders, or executive orders.”

Graves has written a letter to the White House requesting further details on the process, such as whether Obama saw the PATRIOT Act bill before he signed it. The use of the “autopen” was deemed Constitutional by the Bush administration’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2005, but former press secretary Ari Fleischer told ABC News on Friday that Bush never used the device during his time in office. Graves wrote in his statement that he is aware of the decision, but has “requested that President Obama provide a detailed explanation of his authority to delegate this responsibility to a surrogate, whether it is human, machine, or otherwise.”

Introducing
The TPM Journalism Fund: A New Way To Support TPM
We're launching the TPM Journalism Fund as an additional way for readers and members to support TPM. Every dollar contributed goes toward:
  • -Hiring More Journalists
  • -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism
Are you experiencing financial hardship?
Apply for a free community-supported membership
Comments
advertisement
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer:
SPECIAL DEAL FOR PAST TPM MEMBERS
40% OFF AN ANNUAL PRIME MEMBERSHIP
REJOIN FOR JUST $30