Who Will Stand for the Constitution?
December 5, 2008
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Hillary Clinton Constitutionally Ineligible to Serve as Secretary of State
Judicial Watch has been stirring up quite a bit of trouble this week related to Hillary Clinton’s pending appointment to serve as Secretary of State. It all started when we learned that Senator Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve in this capacity until at least 2013, when her term expires. Check this out from The New York Times political blog:
Senate Democrats were working Tuesday to put together legislation making it possible for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to become secretary of state despite a constitutional clause that some critics argue should bar her from joining the cabinet…
Judicial Watch, a watchdog group that made a name for itself investigating the Clinton administration in the 1990s, raised the matter Tuesday with a statement asserting that Mrs. Clinton was ineligible to become secretary of state because of the so-called “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution. By the end of the day, Senator Harry M. Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, was consulting with Republican colleagues in hopes of putting together a bill to address the issue.
Now let me explain what this is all about.
According to the “Emoluments” or “Ineligibility” Clause of the United States Constitution, no member of Congress can be appointed to an office that has benefited from a salary increase during the time that Senator or Representative served in Congress. A January 2008 Executive Order signed by President Bush during Hillary Clinton’s current Senate term increased the salary for Secretary of State, thereby rendering Senator Clinton ineligible for the position.
(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 provision is seen by most as designed by our Founding Fathers to protect against corruption.)
As The New York Times correctly points out, former President Richard Nixon did manage to circumvent this constitutional provision after appointing former Ohio Senator William Saxbe to the position of Attorney General. The Nixon administration forced legislation through Congress to reduce the salary for the position of Attorney General to the level that existed prior to Senator Saxbe’s appointment. This scheme, known thereafter as “The Saxbe Fix,” was also used to allow Senator Lloyd Bentsen to assume the position of Treasury Secretary under President Clinton.
Still, there has hardly been a consensus on the “Saxbe Fix” at the presidential level. President Ronald Reagan reportedly did not appoint Senator Orrin Hatch to the Supreme Court because of this emolument provision and rejected the “Saxbe Fix” as a legislative remedy. Why?
Because “The Saxbe Fix,” does not address the constitutional problem. This type of legislative “remedy” may reduce the salary of Secretary of State to previous levels, but it would not change the fact that the salary had been increased while Senator Clinton served in Congress. Simply put, the Constitution does not provide for a legislative remedy for the “Ineligibility Clause.”
Barack Obama was wrong to appoint Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State for a long list of reasons (some of which I referenced in last week’s update). But now that we know there are constitutional barriers to Hillary’s appointment, clearly Obama should select someone who is eligible for the position and save the country from a constitutional battle over her confirmation. No public official who has taken the oath to support and defend the Constitution should support this appointment.
As I wrote to you yesterday, now Hillary is attacking us. Her spokesman smeared us by calling us a “fringe group.” Why? For pointing out that the U.S. Constitution – the supreme law of the land – should be followed by President-elect Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton.
Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are now trying to do an end run around the Constitution by reducing the salary of Secretary of State to previous levels. Reports suggest that not one United States Senator, either Republican or Democrat, will oppose this unconstitutional legerdemain when it comes to the Senate floor next week. Is there not one Senator who will stand for the Constitution? (Reid seems desperate to avoid a vote that would put each Senator on record.)
We will consider all our options and I ask you to support our fight by donating here. Also, let your representatives in Congress know what you think about proposed efforts to do an end run around the Constitution to help Hillary become Secretary of State. You can call Congress at (202) 244-3121.
Holy Land Foundation Convicted in Terrorism Trial
At long last, justice was served last week against the U.S.-based Holy Land Foundation, a terrorist front organization masquerading as a mainstream charitable group.
According to The Associated Press:
A Muslim charity and five of its former leaders were convicted…of funneling millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, finally handing the government a signature victory in its fight against terrorism funding.
U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis announced the guilty verdicts on all 108 counts on the eighth day of deliberations in the retrial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the nation’s largest Muslim charity. It was the biggest terrorism financing case since the attacks of Sept. 11.
The AP notes that the sentencing date has not yet been set but that the punishments could be “steep.” Supporting a terrorist organization carries a maximum 15-year sentence per count, while financing terrorist activity carries a maximum 20-year sentence per count. With 108 counts in total, the math does not look good for the Holy Land Foundation and its leaders.
As you may recall, Judicial Watch has been working very hard even before 9/11 to expose the financial networks that make terrorism possible. In fact, in 2001, Judicial Watch filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against Muslim non-profit organizations “reportedly being used as money laundering front organizations for radical Islamic terrorists.”
As we stated in our complaint, “Non-profit entities…have been used to ‘launder’ financial transactions and facilitate the transfer of funds supporting violent terrorist attacks by HAMAS [the anti-Israeli Muslim movement responsible for multiple acts of violence which have killed Americans and Israelis].”
In the document, we cited 16 so-called Muslim “charities” that needed to be investigated and, if necessary, shut down. The Holy Land Foundation, of course, was high on the list. In December 2001, the government took action, froze the organization’s assets and commenced its legal battle. And this week, seven years after Judicial Watch filed its complaint, the Holy Land Foundation and its leaders were finally held accountable to the rule of law.
Unfortunately, as we’ve been saying for seven years, the Holy Land Foundation is just the tip of the iceberg. Click here to read a Judicial Watch special report exposing the terrorist links of other so-called mainstream Muslim charities, including the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR is listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism case, but it has not earned the same prosecutorial attention from the federal government as the Holy Land Foundation.
In fact, on December 28, 2006, the federal Transportation and Safety Administration published an online press release authored by the Council for American Islamic Relations expressing its approval of a TSA “sensitivity training” program about Islamic traditions.
The victory against the Holy Land Foundation is significant but we still have a long way to go. The government’s schizophrenic approach to these Muslim non-profit charities makes no sense and puts our nation at risk.
Financial Bailout Spirals Out of Control
Any guesses as to how much the federal financial bailout is expected to cost? Remember the good old days when the figure was put at around $700 billion?
According to one estimate, we’re now looking at $8.5 trillion – this link even comes with a handy excel spreadsheet detailing the costs. ABC News has the figure at about $7.5 trillion. No matter which estimate you go with, this financial bailout far surpasses the package sold to Congress just a couple of months ago.
Perhaps worst of all, apparently we ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
Bloomberg reported this week that governors are going to come calling to get their piece of the pie, estimated at around $100 billion for social services. Congress is now considering extending new aid to the auto industry to prevent bankruptcy while still more banks are lining up to receive their share of “rescue funding.”
Where will it end? No one knows.
What concerns me is that lost in all of this financial wheeling and dealing is the real cause of the financial crisis – corruption. And what is being done to address this problem?
Not much it seems. The “plan” so far involves rewarding corporations with taxpayer money for poor or craven decision-making, often done at the behest of corrupted politicians and their leftist pressure group supporters such as ACORN. At the same time these corrupt politicians like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, who have been on “the take” from some of these bailout corporations, are allowed to run the show.
Barack Obama (of ACORN and Fannie Mae largesse fame), meanwhile, continues to fill his cabinet with corrupt Clinton castoffs and Chicago insiders. In a testament to his complete lack of judgment, Obama’s first choice to serve as Commerce Secretary was Penny Pritzker, the billionaire subprime queen, who pioneered the practice of politically-correct subprime lending in the 1990’s. (Having too many complicated financial entanglements to take the Commerce job, Pritzker will reportedly lead Obama’s inaugural committee.)
Obama’s second (and final) choice, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, was the man in charge at Clinton’s Energy Department during a time when nuclear secrets were stolen from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and transferred to the Communist Chinese. Prior to that, he conspired with the Clinton gang to keep Monica Lewinsky quiet with a job offer at the United Nations.
This does not inspire confidence.
When the dust finally settles from all of this, one thing is certain. The government will have gained in strength, size, and influence. And as we all know, with bigger government comes more corruption. There is a direct relationship. The more private assets gobbled up by the federal government, the greater propensity for mischief. And the more work Judicial Watch will have on its hands. We already have an active investigation concerning the financial crisis and I’ll be sure keep you updated on any developments.
Until next week…
Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.