Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against newly sworn-in Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on behalf of U.S. Foreign Service Officer and State Department employee David C. Rodearmel, (Rodearmel v. Clinton, et al., (D. District of Columbia)). The lawsuit maintains that Mrs. Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve as Secretary of State and that Mr. Rodearmel cannot be forced to serve under the former U.S. Senator, as it would violate the oath he took as a Foreign Service Officer in 1991 to "support and defend" and "bear true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution of the United States.
Under the "Emoluments" or "Ineligibility" clause of the U.S. Constitution, no member of Congress can be appointed to a civilian position within the U.S. government if the "emoluments" of the position, such as the salary or benefits paid to whoever occupies the office, increased during the term for which the Senator or Representative was elected.
Specifically, article I, section 6 of the U.S. Constitution provides, "No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time." The text of the provision is an absolute prohibition and does not allow for any exceptions.
According to Judicial Watch's lawsuit, the "emoluments" of the office of U.S. Secretary of State increased three times during Mrs. Clinton's most recent U.S. Senate term. That term, which began on January 4, 2007, does not expire until January 2013, regardless of Mrs. Clinton's recent resignation. The lawsuit notes that Congress attempted to evade this clear constitutional prohibition with a so-called "Saxbe fix" last month, reducing the Secretary of State's salary to the level in effect on January 1, 2007. This maneuver, first used in the Taft Administration, has been more frequently used in recent years by both parties, allowing notably Republican Senator William Saxbe to become U.S. Attorney General in 1973 and Democratic Senator Lloyd Bentsen to become Treasury Secretary in 1993. A similar "fix" has been enacted for Senator Ken Salazar to join the Obama Cabinet as Secretary of the Interior.
Judicial Watch's lawsuit, however, points out that the legislation "does not and cannot change the historical fact that the 'compensation and other emoluments' of the office of the U.S. Secretary of State increased during Defendant Clinton's tenure in the U.S. Senate ...." The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is required to give expedited consideration to the lawsuit.
"This historic legal challenge should remind politicians of both parties that the U.S. Constitution is not to be trifled with," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Mrs. Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State until at least 2013, when her second term in the U.S. Senate expires. We hope the courts will put a stop to these end runs around the Constitution and affirm the rule of law."
For our earlier posts on the subject, see here; as I noted there, I'm tentatively inclined to think that the Clinton appointment doesn't violate the Emoluments Clause, but I thought I'd link to the arguments of those who take the contrary view (as I also had earlier, quoting Prof. Michael Stokes Paulsen).
Related Posts (on one page):
- The Resultative Perfect
- New Justice Department Opinion on the Ineligibility Clause (Sometimes Also Called the Emoluments Clause):
- Judicial Watch Sues Over Hillary Clinton and the Emoluments Clause:
- The Saxbe Fix Is In,
- Why Isn't Vice-President-Elect Biden Affected by the Emoluments Clause?
- More on Hillary Clinton and the Emoluments Clause:
- Hillary Clinton and the Emoluments Clause: