JW Appeals to Supreme Court to Consider Lawsuit Challenging Hillary Clinton’s Eligibility to Serve as Secretary of State
NOVEMBER 12, 2009
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that on November 3rd it filed a “Notice of Appeal” as a first step in asking the United States Supreme Court to consider its lawsuit filed on behalf of U.S. Foreign Service Officer David C. Rodearmel challenging Hillary Clinton’s constitutional eligibility to serve as Secretary of State [Rodearmel v. Clinton, et al., (Civil Action No.09-171) (D.D.C.)]. Following oral argument on September 16, a special three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the challenge on October 29th, ruling that Mr. Rodearmel lacked “standing” to bring the lawsuit. The panel did not rule on the constitutional merits of the lawsuit.
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, filed on January 29, 2009, maintains that the “Ineligibility Clause” of the U.S. Constitution prohibits Hillary Clinton from serving 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.
According to Article I, section 6 of the U.S. Constitution: “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. However, as Judicial Watch notes in its complaint for Mr. Rodearmel, “the ‘compensation and other emoluments’ of the office of the U.S. Secretary of State increased during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure in the U.S. Senate, including as many as three times during the second, six-year term to which she was elected.”
Congress attempted to circumvent this constitutional provision by “rolling back” compensation for the position of Secretary of State to the level in effect on January 1, 2007. Judicial Watch’s complaint maintains: “This [fix] 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 Mrs. Clinton’s tenure in the U.S. Senate.”
With respect to the issue of standing, Judicial Watch contends that Mr. Rodearmel “has demonstrated that he is being injured in his employment by being required to serve under, take direction from, and report to a constitutionally ineligible superior, Mrs. Clinton” and that he has “been placed in a position where he either must violate his oath of office or risk substantial, adverse consequences to his employment.”
The “Ineligibility Clause” is seen by many as designed by our Founding Fathers to protect against corruption, limit the size of government, and ensure the separation of powers among the three branches of government. At least two other presidential appointees, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Army Secretary John McHugh are also ineligible to serve in their positions under the “Ineligibility Clause.”
The lawsuit was reviewed on an expedited basis by a special three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Under applicable law, any appeal goes directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Our client’s goal is to vindicate the U.S. Constitution,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Constitution clearly prohibits Hillary Clinton from serving as Secretary of State until 2013. We hope the Supreme Court assumes jurisdiction over this matter and puts a stop to this attempt to do end-run around the Constitution.”