Is Hillary Constitutionally Qualified?
By J. D. Longstreet
We often refer to the US Constitution as an inconvenient document. And it is… if you want to make an end run around the US system of laws. It can be VERY inconvenient for those who are used to sailing close to the wind, so to speak, or those who live their lives in the gray zone of legality. The thing is… the constitution has very few gray areas.
Even as I write, the presumed President-Elect of the US, Mr. B.H. Obama, is in a self-made protracted struggle to answer legal questions about his constitutional qualifications to even BE President of the US, the position to which he has just been elected. (Obama is, at best, PRESUMED to have been elected. Whether he has been elected, or not, cannot be certain until after the electoral votes are counted. Until then --- he is actually, and in fact, the Presumed President-Elect.)
Now, Obama’s appointee to be the US Secretary of State is having the eyes of legal scholars cast upon her qualifications as well. Needless to say, this is NOT an auspicious beginning for Mr. Obama’s presidential administration. I am very afraid this is the sort of thing we are going to be subjected to for a good portion of Mr. Obama’s stay in the Oval Office.
Let’s take a look at the Constitution and see what the problem is… in so far as it may affect Mrs. Bill Clinton. Article One; Section Six of the Constitution says the following:
(The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.) (The preceding words in parentheses were modified by the 27th Amendment, which says the following: No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.)They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
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; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
The paragraph above (in bold/Italic type) is the portion of the constitution, which has raised eyebrows concerning Hillary Clinton’s possible disqualification to hold the office of SecState.
The Constitution plainly says that no member of Congress, either the House of Representatives or the Senate, can hold an appointed office if that office received an increase in salary during the time the appointee served in the House or the Senate. The idea was to avoid having someone benefit from a salary increase for which he, or she, voted approval. Now, I dare say, most of us do not keep track of the salaries of cabinet members. So, after a little light research on the Internet, we learned that President Bush signed an executive order, which approved a salary increase for the Secretary of State, on January 4th, 2008. That order raised the SecState’s salary from US$186, 600 dollars a year to US$191, 300 dollars per year.
Another pesky Republican raising another annoying red flag in an attempt to sabotage the process of a duly elected democrat president, you say? Nope. This is the work of another pesky democrat. Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia who just happens to be the senior member of the US Senate and, some say, a very fine scholar, indeed, on the US Constitution.
So, what to do? Well, this has happened before. Back in 1973, President Richard Nixon nominated Sen. William Saxbe, of Ohio, as Attorney General. Nixon did this right after he had fired the top officials at the Justice Department in the midst of the Watergate mess. See, he had fired the Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, in that “Saturday Night Massacre” as it was referred to in those days. Problem was… Saxbe was, in fact, a member of the Senate in 1969 when Congress voted to increase pay for cabinet secretaries.
How was this resolved? Well, Congress simply voted to reduce the salary of the Attorney General to what it is was before the offending raise in 1969 and the Senate went on to confirm Saxbe.
Senator Byrd objected to Saxbe’s confirmation on constitutional grounds at the time saying in a story, which appeared in the Washington Post, that the constitution was: “so clear that it can’t be waived. In my judgment, the bill itself shouldn’t be passed. We should not delude the American people into thinking a way can be found around the constitutional obstacle.” You can read that story at:
So, what will happen? Well, based strictly on what we have seen the “Honorables” do in the past… my best guess is that Hillary will be the next Secretary of State… even if the Senators have to make that “end run” around the oh, so inconvenient, Constitution as they did for the Nixon appointee.
Adhering to the Constitution would mean that Hillary would not be eligible to hold the office of Secretary of State until the year 2013… at the earliest. I mean… LEGALLY speaking, you understand. But, as we have pointed out and warned about on so many previous occasions, never, ever, bet on the Congress doing the right thing when it is easier for them to do the expedient thing.
There is an excellent article on this titled: "Byrd’s Office Explores Constitutionality of Sen. Clinton Serving as Secretary of State" at CNSNEWS.COM at:
Hillary Clinton WILL BE the next Secretary of State… if she really and truly wants the office. Expecting the Senate to follow the law of the land would be a lame expectation, indeed.
J. D. Longstreet
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