Monday, August 15, 2011
Terry L. Turnipseed (Associate Professor, Syracuse University College of Law) has recently posted on SSRN his article entitled The President and the Autopen: It is Unconstitutional for Someone or Something to Sign a Bill Outside of the President's Presence.
The article makes a robust legal case that the President’s use of an autopen (or even a human being) to sign a bill outside of the President’s presence is unconstitutional. For example, in May 2011, President Obama was in France when he had a White House staffer in D.C. use an autopen to sign a bill that extended three provisions of the Patriot Act.
Although this sounds like a Constitutional Law article and not a wills article, Prof. Turnipseed spends half of the article discussing the presence requirement for proxy signatures in will executions. He goes back to the Statute of Frauds and the Statute of Wills (both had the presence requirement for proxy signatures) and brings it up to current tiimes with the UPC, the Restatement, etc., all of which contain the presence requirement. He argues that this is the proper lens in which to view the Presidential bill signature requirement found in Article I.