The signing represents a four-year extension of post-September 11th powers to search records and conduct wiretaps in search of would-be terrorists.
“It’s an important tool for us to continue dealing with an ongoing terrorist threat,” Obama said today after meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
What’s interesting, though, is how the president signed the extension.
As President Obama was over in France and wasn’t due back to Washington D.C. until after the expiration date, the president signed the Patriot Act extension with an “autopen.”
The autopen machine holds a pen and signs Obama’s actual signature. It is only used with proper authorization of the president.
What a fascinating way to sign an act into law, but is it legal?
Jay Wexler, a Boston University law professor and author of “The Odd Clauses: Understanding the Constitution Through Ten of Its Most Curious Provisions”, says the constitutionality of using an autopen was confirmed in a thorough 2005 Office of Legal Counsel opinion.
No word on whether it was the autopen that accidentally wrote 2008 in the Royal Guestbook.