YAL's Bonnie Kristian wrote a great piece recently about the concern some Republican Congressmen have expressed about President Obama's use of an autopen to sign the four-year extension of the so-called "Patriot" Act into law.
In the middle of an invective against the hypocrisy of the pharisees of his day, Jesus famously charges that they “strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” Perhaps on no single issue is more camel swallowing occurring today than the matter of privacy and the PATRIOT Act.
Several Republican members of Congress have called on President Obama re-sign his reauthorization of the unconstitutional PATRIOT Act bill. He originally signed it into law using an autopen, a machine that allows him to approve legislation remotely if he is not in Washington at the time it is placed on his desk.
Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia, leading the anti-autopen charge, contended that autopen use is disrespectful to the American people — and may itself be unconstitutional to boot. It’s admirable, of course, that Rep. Graves (who voted no on the extension of this law) is attempting to halt or at least delay the continuation of the PATRIOT Act by hook or by crook. In that sense, I respect his actions here; yet he is, I think, missing the larger picture.
The type of machine the president used to renew the law (when it was so clearly his intention to do so) is a gnat. What the PATRIOT Act actually authorizes on a daily basis — that is a camel, and that is what we should be gagging back up as hard as possible.
In politics, it's extremely easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Bonnie is exactly right when she says we must remain focused on our ultimate goal -- repealing the "Patriot" Act.