Sunday, November 23, 2008

Clinton and Emoluments

There's some buzz in the blogosphere about whether Senator Clinton's nomination to be Secretary of State will run up against the Emoluments Clause.  (NYT reports here that Obama offered, Clinton accepted.)

The Emoluments Clause (Art. 1, sec. 6, cl. 2)--designed to prevent opportunistic and corrupt office-seeking--states:

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 problem here is that the Secretary of State's salary increased in January 2007, the same month Clinton began her current term.  Calvin Massey at The Faculty Lounge explains here.

Even if the Emoluments Clause poses a barrier to Clinton's appointment, there is a fix: Congress could simply lower the salary to its 2006 level.  This happened at least twice before: When Nixon nominated Senator William Saxbe to be AG; and when outgoing President George H.W. Bush approved a salary decrease to allow Senator Lloyd Bentson to serve as Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration.  WaPo reports here.

Nareissa also posted on the issue in yesterday's Teaching Assistant.


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