Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Habeas Schmabeas

Constitutional tomfoolery is afoot! Gasp! The world is alight with talk of emoluments and essential oils. And Clinton. (Just google "emoluments" and "Clinton" and see.)

In case you didn't know before today, "emolument" is a word powdered wig types used way back when instead of "paycheck." Maybe because back then senators got paid in livestock instead of money.

In case you didn't know before today, Obama appointing Clinton Secretary of State would be unconstitutional. Because of emoluments.

The problem is, Article I, Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution says a senator who has voted a pay increase for a job like Secretary of State can't then serve as Secretary of State. I guess to keep them from voting a big fat raise for a job they're eyeing in the future. Kind of presumptuous, if you ask me. Does anyone really think Clinton's (or anyone else who approved the pay increase) grand plan was to vote for the emoluments, then lose the primary, then sneak her way into that (presumably now) high-paying job as Secretary of State? Okay, maybe people do think that.

There may be a way around the issue of emoluments, as far as the Oval Office is concerned: Roll back the pay; render the increase null and void. Unfortunately, according to constitutional scholars, this is totally not cool even though Taft did it to get Philander Knox in the White House. As did Nixon and Carter and W.J. Clinton. And who the hell names their kid Philander anyway? Seriously, that's messed up. See, even if the emoluments were dropped to pre-Clinton-vote figures, it would still be a violation of the Constitution. Let me quote pertinent bit (which, like all good bits of that document, I've snipped down to its useful parts) which makes it clear:

"No Senator shall, during the Time for which (s)he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office, which the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time."

Just as you can't unring a bell, just as you can't shove sausage backward though a meat grinder and pull a pig out the other end, some things just can't be undone. Even if you did roll back the pay, you can't undo the historical fact that the increase was made. Even if it's gone now. So there. Suck on that, Taft! It may seem like mere equivocating, but it's not. No sir. It's the Constitution, and it can't be fucked with.

It's wonderful to know there are those fine, brave folks out there willing to stand up to our incoming president, and they won't let him make mockery of the rule of law in this country. Just imagine what would happen if our president tried to suspend habeas corpus on a whim or something.

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