We’re often treated, these days, to points of political principle that, judging by conservative standards, apply only to Democratic presidents and legislators. For example, the individual mandate, in the hands of a Democrat, is socialism, and somehow Weimar Germany come again; but in the hands of a Republican, it’s part of a market-based solution that harnesses to bring costs down while keeping the insurance industry safe. Nuance!
The latest is the autopen, a neat little device that can sign the President’s name for him, on his say-so, therefore turning bill into law even in the President’s absence from the Oval Office. Under President Bush, per the OLC, the device was perfectly constitutional, as the President still causes the bill to be signed, thereby discharging his constitutional role. But is it still constitutional under Obama? Of course not!
These are the concerns that occupy the new right; and were it not already resolved, it might be somewhat interesting. The trend in legal practice is away from requiring true signatures — “/s/ Attorney Name” suffices, more often than not. Similarly, executives ancient and medieval could issue edicts or orders under their seal, duplicates of which were often held by trusted lieutenants. Such expediences are especially important where, as here, absent the executive’s signature, important national security- or military-related matters would go unsigned.
But where there’s a chance to wound President Obama, of course form matters over function, national interests be damned.