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More Evidence Constitution is Dead

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January 30, 2009

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Judicial Watch Files Lawsuit Challenging Hillary Clinton Appointment

On Thursday, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against newly sworn-in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on behalf of U.S. Foreign Service Officer and State Department employee David C. Rodearmel. (Click here to read the lawsuit. Click here to read a statement from our client.)
This is our argument in a nutshell: Hillary Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve as Secretary of State and 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.
You’ll likely recall we tried to warn members of Congress a few weeks ago that the Constitution prohibits Mrs. Clinton from serving as Secretary of State until 2013, when her second term in the U.S. Senate expires, but they didn’t listen. She was confirmed 94-2 and sworn in on January 21st.
Here’s the constitutional issue at play:
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 whomever 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 increased 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.
Members of Congress, well aware of the “emoluments clause,” 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 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 is an historic legal challenge. Our goal is to remind politicians of both parties that the U.S. Constitution is not to be trifled with. We hope the courts will put a stop to these end runs around the Constitution and affirm the rule of law.
To finish, let me quote from our client David Rodearmel’s statement:
“I am bringing suit to finally resolve this issue and to seek compliance with the manifest tenor of the Constitution. To detach ourselves from the text of the Constitution is a true slippery slope that would negate the rule of law. If the Constitution needs to be changed, it should be done by the means the Constitution provides.
“This is not a partisan, political or personal issue. I have faithfully served under six prior Secretaries of State of both parties, and under eight Presidents since first taking the oath to uphold the Constitution as a young Army officer cadet. During a prior assignment as State Department representative on the faculty of a U.S. service academy, we taught our cadets: “Officers serve the Nation for one and only one purpose: to support and defend the Constitution.” As a commissioned State Department Foreign Service Officer, a retired Army Reserve Judge Advocate Officer, and as a lawyer, I consider it my Constitutional duty to bring this case to the courts.”
JudicialWatch ...because no one is above the law

Written by Michael Cooper

January 31, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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