JW Files Appeal with Supreme Court Challenging Hillary Clinton’s Eligibility to Serve as Secretary of State
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that on December 31, 2009, it filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court in its lawsuit 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. on appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia).
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, filed on January 29, 2009, maintains that the Ineligibility Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits 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. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court dismissed Judicial Watch’s lawsuit on October 29th, ruling that Mr. Rodearmel lacked “standing” to bring the lawsuit. The court did not address the constitutional merits of the lawsuit itself.
As Judicial Watch notes in its brief, federal law provides that an Ineligibility Clause appeal related to the position of Secretary of State may be brought directly to the U.S. Supreme Court within 20 days of a judgment on the validity of the appointment. Moreover, the law states, “The Supreme Court shall, if it has not previously ruled on the question presented by an appeal…accept jurisdiction over the appeal, advance the appeal on the docket, and expedite the appeal.”
There are two key questions at issue in this lawsuit, according to Judicial Watch’s Supreme Court appeal (technically called a “Jurisdictional Statement”):
(1) Whether an Officer of the United States, when placed in a position where he must either violate his oath of office or risk substantial, adverse consequences to his employment, has standing to maintain a challenge to the appointment of a constitutionally ineligible superior.
(2) Whether members of Congress who are otherwise ineligible for appointment to an office in the Executive Branch under the plain language of Article I, section 6 of the Constitution, can have their eligibility restored by an act of Congress.
With respect to the issue of standing, Judicial Watch contends that Mr. Rodearmel “demonstrated in the district court 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. This is because [Mr. Rodearmel] has been placed in a position where he either must violate his oath of office or risk substantial, adverse consequences to his employment.”
With respect to Congress’ attempt to circumvent the Ineligibility Clause by “rolling back” compensation for the position of Secretary of State to the level in effect on January 1, 2007, Judicial Watch 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.”
“The Supreme Court has an obligation to settle the Ineligibility Clause issue once and for all,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “If our government and courts will not observe even the plain and unambiguous provisions of the Constitution, then we are cut adrift from the anchor of law and liberty and the rule of law is in jeopardy. We hope the Supreme Court takes this opportunity to vindicate the Constitution.”