President Obama does any number of things that annoy or downright enrage House Republicans, often in the context of constitutionalism. Now a handful of them, many freshmen who ran on platforms of strict constitutional adherence, are unhappy that the president used a so-called autopen to sign legislation extending the U.S.A. Patriot Act, and have written him a letter demanding that he re-sign the bill.

“It is clear that assigning a surrogate the responsibility of signing bills passed by Congress is a debatable issue,” reads the letter, initiated by Representative Tom Graves of Georgia and signed by 20 other Republican House members, “and could be challenged in court. That being the case, our request is that, out of an abundance of caution, you affix your signature,” personally, to the enrolled bill.

So the administration, citing a 2005 memorandum written by the Office of Legal Counsel to President George W. Bush, opted for the autopen, a machine that reproduces for routine government transactions such as letters and photos, to do the signing for him. It was the first time in United States history that a bill had been signed into law with the device.

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