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Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection an...

The constitutional way of signing a bill -- with a pen in your own hand

It wasn’t enough for President Obama to illegally go to war against Libya.

No, he had to violate another part of the Constitution. This time, by indirectly signing a four-year extension to the so-called Patriot Act with an autopen.

Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution states:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it

The clear meaning of this requirement is that the bill that has passed the House and Senate, which is to be presented to the President, has to be signed by him, and only him, and not some autopen based on his order.

If they can’t get the bill to him on time, then that should say something about the perils of waiting until the last minute, and about too many bills being passed by Congress. Taking shortcuts is no excuse, since the bill will become law if it’s still unsigned 10 days later (excluding Sundays).

The Constitution’s language also makes it clear that line-item vetos aren’t constitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled as such in 1998, after such a provision was signed into law in 1996 by President Clinton.

Therefore, we don’t need a Supreme Court decision to tell us what should be obvious by a plain reading, and the former Attorney General under George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales, is no authority on the Constitution, in arguing autopen signings are constitutional, since he was the one who claimed that there was no constitutional habeas corpus protection in the constitution for Guantanimo detainees, despite Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution already recognizing a pre-existing writ of habeas corpus, in saying:

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

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