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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

A State Department employee has filed a lawsuit today in federal court against newly sworn-in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claiming she is constitutionally ineligible to serve.

Judicial Watch, a public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it is pursuing the complaint in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C, on behalf of U.S. Foreign Service Officer and State Department employee David C. Rodearmel.

Rodearmel, a resident of Virginia, maintains Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve as secretary of state and that he cannot serve under her because doing so would go against 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.

“This is not a partisan, political or personal issue,” Rodearmel said in a statement. “I have faithfully served under six prior Secretaries of State of both parties, and under eight Presidents since first taking the oath to uphold the Constitution as a young Army officer cadet. … As a commissioned State Department Foreign Service Officer, a retired Army Reserve Judge Advocate Officer, and as a lawyer, I consider it my Constitutional duty to bring this case to the courts.”

The constitutional quandary arises from a clause that forbids members of the Senate from being appointed to civil office, such as the secretary of state, if the “emoluments,” or salary and benefits, of the office were increased during the senator’s term.

The second clause of Article 1, Section 6, of the Constitution reads, “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.”

As WND has reported, James Madison’s notes on the debates that formed the Constitution explain the reason for the clause. Madison himself argued against “the evils” of corrupt governments where legislators created salaried positions – or increased the salary of positions – and then secured appointments to the comfortable jobs they just created. Others agreed that such tactics were evident in Colonial and British government, and they wrote Article 1, Section 6 to prevent the practice.

According to the lawsuit, the “emoluments” of the office of secretary of state increased as many as three times since Clinton began her second, six-year Senate term in January 2007. On Jan. 1, 2007, the secretary of state’s salary increased to $186,600. In 2008, it increased to $191,300, and on Jan. 1, 2009, it increased again to $196,700.

The complaint states, the court has exclusive jurisdiction over the case under Public Law No. 110-455, 122 Stat. 5036, allowing anyone aggrieved by an action of the U.S. Secretary of State to contest “the constitutionality of the appointment and continuance in office of the Secretary of State on the grounds that such appointment and continuance in office is in violation of article I, section 6, clause 2, of the U.S. Constitution.”

The lawsuit acknowledges that Congress tried to shirk the constitutional exclusion with a “Saxbe fix,” reducing the Clinton’s salary to the level in effect before Jan. 1, but it states that the legislation “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 Defendant Clinton’s tenure in the U.S. Senate. …”

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said he hopes the lawsuit will send a loud and clear message to Republicans and Democrats.

“This historic legal challenge should remind politicians of both parties that the U.S. Constitution
is not to be trifled with,” he said. “Mrs. Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State until at least 2013, when her second term in the U.S. Senate expires. We hope the courts will put a stop to these end runs around the Constitution and affirm the rule of law.”

 


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