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  Autopens in the news: Presidential autopens

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Author Topic:   Autopens in the news: Presidential autopens
Aztecdoug
Member

Posts: 1339
From: Huntington Beach
Registered: Feb 2000

posted 01-03-2013 12:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are some interesting stories about the autopen cropping up in the news today. The reason is because our president just signed some legislation in Washington DC while on vacation elsewhere.

One article says many presidents going back in time have used the device. The New York Times says only our current president has ever used it.

Not trying to be political, it is just interesting to see our arch nemesis make it to the news.

Tykeanaut
Member

Posts: 1789
From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 01-03-2013 12:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm surprised that's legal!

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 28757
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-03-2013 12:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to ABC News, "a 2005 legal study commissioned by former President George W. Bush determined that use of the autopen is constitutional but acknowledged the possibility that its use could be challenged." Here's the 29-page legal finding [via Politico].

This shouldn't be too surprising to long-time space collectors, as astronauts have used the autopen to sign legal documents, including customs declaration forms (albeit the necessity of such forms was questionable).

spaceman1953
Member

Posts: 941
From: South Bend, IN United States of America
Registered: Apr 2002

posted 01-03-2013 10:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is just WRONG!

The papers could be transmitted to him on Air Force One and then he could sign on the plane and the paper could just stay with him or his military aide until they got back to DC. Or they could be "courier-ed" back, if there was some urgent need to do that!

But I think using the autopen for his legal signature is wrong, but I still gotta go read that legal opinion!

Gives the Rush Limbaugh-wannabees something to talk about...

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2365
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 01-04-2013 09:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not a lawyer, but how is using an autopen different from having a secretary sign for a person?

schnappsicle
Member

Posts: 139
From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Jan 2012

posted 01-04-2013 09:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Signing for a person is one thing, signing a bill into law using autopen is something quite different. I'm no lawyer either, but I can't see how that can be legal. Perhaps he signs it by hand when he returns to the office. That's the only way any of this would make sense to me.

Glint
Member

Posts: 790
From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 01-04-2013 10:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaceman1953:
The papers could be transmitted to him on Air Force One...
And add even more to the man's already ludicrous carbon footprint?

Why not just use a portable signing pad, like those employed by pharmacies or delivery truck drivers to verify receipt of the goods?

Steve Zarelli
Member

Posts: 395
From: Upstate New York, USA
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 01-04-2013 10:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaceman1953:
The papers could be transmitted to him on Air Force One and then he could sign on the plane...
Paying a few hundred thousand $$$ to carry a piece of paper? Isn't the deficit high enough?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 28757
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-04-2013 11:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by schnappsicle:
I'm no lawyer either, but I can't see how that can be legal.
A 29 page explanation as to why it is legal can be found linked earlier in this thread, as prepared by the U.S. Justice Department.

In a nutshell, among other reasons, when the Constitution was written (establishing the President must sign a bill into law), a legal signature did not require the signee to actually apply the ink to paper. He could designate someone else to sign for him or have his seal applied instead.

mikepf
Member

Posts: 367
From: San Jose, California, USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 01-04-2013 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikepf   Click Here to Email mikepf     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh great, now if a bill turns out to be a disaster, he can deny that he signed it!

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 28757
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-04-2013 12:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Realize you were probably replying in jest, but no, in the eyes of the law, he cannot.

It is interesting though, from both a societal and collector viewpoint, how much importance we seem to assign a scribble of ink. In some ways we assign more value to the marking than we do the man (or woman, or in this case machine) that applied it...

mikepf
Member

Posts: 367
From: San Jose, California, USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 01-05-2013 12:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikepf   Click Here to Email mikepf     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, I was joking. And yes, I also agree that the interest a sqiggle of ink can command for us is most interesting to think about. At least for me, my attitude has evolved quite a bit over time. As it is now, for my personal collection, only the signatures I've gotten personally have emotional meaning to me. My interest in an autograph is in the fact that the signature represents a personal conmnection between the signer and myself. That someone who I admire so much would take a moment, sign the item, exchange a few words, shake my hand, and maybe pose for a picture puts all the meaning and value in that blob of ink. That moment of personal contact, either on a space photo, or a Congressional bill, cannot be mechanically reproduced.

All times are CT (US)

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